We’ve heard a lot lately about the risks of Yoga.
Often people take parts of Tai chi or Yoga, reconfigure a few things and then offer it as their own: Tai chi chin is an example. It can be a way of offering a small piece of the discipline; it can either be done well or not.
Here is a great example of doing it well from the world of Yoga. As it relates to back pain, it doesn’t get much better. Take a look.
(Foreword by The Everette Chiropractic Center)
BY DR. ADAM TANASE
A lot of people are curious about whether or not they should be sleeping on their stomach. My previous article on this topic elicited a variety of responses ranging from complete agreement to utter disbelief.
It’s important for stomach-sleepers to know that this position applies mechanical stress to the cervical spine. Muscles and ligaments are stretched asymmetrically to one side, which physically pulls the upper cervical vertebrae out of proper alignment. Among other things, this can cause chronic neck pain and headaches, and snowball into irreversible arthritic changes over time.
So I’d like to describe some ways for you to train yourself how to quit sleeping on your stomach. It’ll take time – don’t expect overnight success. But patients have informed me they’ve made the change in as little as two weeks. For others, it can take up to six months.
Here are four ways to stop sleeping on your stomach…
Suggestion #1: Use a Therapeutica Pillow. This is the easiest way, in my opinion, because it’s the “training wheels” of pillows. It’s uniquely designed to help you maintain back/side sleeping. The intelligent shape of it makes stomach-sleeping nearly impossible. There’s no question that it will wake you up if your body moves into the wrong position during the night.
Suggestion #2: Solo sleepers have some creative ways to police their sleeping position. One method involves tying a ribbon around your wrist and anchoring it to a nightstand or bedpost. The theory is that “rolling over” will create a tugging sensation on the arm, prompting you to change positions. An alternative to this would be velcroing a tennis ball to the front of your pajamas. The idea here is to make lying flat on your stomach unpleasant.
Suggestion #3: “Will” yourself to stay on your back or side all night. This method is appealing because it doesn’t cost anything. It can be effective if you share your bed with someone who is a light sleeper. Ask them to nudge/poke if they notice you’ve unconsciously shifted onto your stomach during the night. Using a knee wedge pillow might help as well.
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Many who live with chronic back pain would really love to be less dependent on painkillers to manage their pain. But how? Natural pain relievers may be the answer. Here’s a list that might help – each of these won’t be for everyone, but any number of these natural pain relievers might help you be able to rely less on pain medications and feel more in control of your life.
- Release your inner endorphins. These natural chemicals block pain signals from reaching your brain. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain relievers, and they can be as strong as many of the strongest pain relievers. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety, stress and depression — conditions that often accompany and exacerbate chronic pain. The body produces endorphins during aerobic exercise. A “runner’s high” is not just for those running long distances — any activity that gets your blood pumping for a sustained period will release pain relieving endorphins into your system.
- Find good company. Those who have regular contact with others dealing with similar forms of chronic pain find that their pain becomes more manageable. An online group that is both active and supportiveis best. Members of the Spine-health.com Back Pain and Chronic Pain discussion forums say that it is quite simply “free therapy”.
- Eat cookies. Research shows that eating sweet foods like cookies, chocolate or ice cream, helps reduce the sensation of pain.
- Or just bake the cookies. Enjoying a smell that is both sweet and pleasant has been shown to reduce the perception of pain.
- Feel the heat. Applying some form of heat — a hot water bottle, gel-filled pad heated in the microwave, electric heating pad, or hot bath — can go a long way in easing your pain. Benefits of heat are twofold: it increases the flow of healing oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area, and it suppresses pain signals being sent to your brain. Some find that wearing a heat wrap, such as Thermacare heat wrap, is best because it releases a low level heat for several hours and can be worn under clothes so you remain mobile.
- Cool it with ice. Ahh, how this cools down inflamed and sore tissues. Back pain almost always comes with some level of inflammation, and ice is the best natural way to reduce it. Ice also helps by acting as a local anesthetic, and by slowing the nerve impulses, which in turn interrupts the pain-spasm reactions between the nerves in the affected area.
- Loosen up. Almost everyone can benefit from stretching the soft tissues – the muscles, ligaments and tendons – in and around the spine. Your back is designed for movement, and if your motion is limited it can make your back pain worse. If you suffer from chronic back pain, you may find it takes weeks or months of stretching to loosen up your spine and soft tissues, but you will find that meaningful and sustained pain relief will follow the increase in motion.
- Enjoy the outdoors. People who got the recommended daily 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D experienced less pain than those who didn’t, according to a Boston University study of 221 men and women withknee osteoarthritis. Researchers surmised that Vitamin D helps relieve pain by aiding in the absorption of calcium, which is needed for bone growth and repair. Other research shows vitamin D may directly help soothe pain. 93% of 150 people with unexplained sources of pain were recently found to be deficient in Vitamin D levels, according to recent research at the University of Minnesota. About 15 minutes of sun exposure on your face and hands a day is enough to get your daily dose of D, or a 200-IU supplement of Vitamin D and as much calcium as is found in two glasses of milk.
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Currently known as one of the best vaulters in the world, McKayla Maroney achieved an athlete’s dream of earning gold as part of the US Women’s Gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Her arduous journey to olympic achievement, however, was marked by challenges, many of them common and familiar among professional and competitive atheletes. Below is an excerpt from an article printed in The Washington Times, highlighting how chiropractic was pivotal in Maroney’s journey to gold.
McKayla Maroney, the 2011 World Vault Champion, was injured in St. Louis, Missouri on June 8, 2012, during a pre-meet warm up during her floor routine. She did three flips in the air, landed on her back, and hit her head so hard that her nasal bone fractured and she was left with a severe concussion.
Because this injury was of this magnitude she had to meet with the Olympic medical board to assess her ability to compete at the national team Olympic trials.
Her primary treating chiropractor, Dr. Chris Tunner, was aware that she was still suffering from residual post-concussion symptoms and wanted to offer young McKayla her lifetime dream to compete in the Olympics, so after discussing the options with her mother they referred her to Dr. Shad Groves, a chiropractic neurologist, in Long Beach, California.
Read the rest of this article at Georgia Clinic of ChiropracticRead More
BY DR. ADAM TANASE
I recently discovered a WikiHow article entitled “How to Crack Your Neck.” Let me ask you this… Have you ever felt compelled to skip the dentist’s office, reach for your rechargeable Dewalt drill, and attempt to fix your own toothache?
Pretty silly, right? Well wrenching your neck from side to side hoping to elicit pain relief isn’t much smarter.
I’ve lost count how many times someone has asked me if it’s okay to “crack” their own neck. In case you’re wondering too… the answer is a resounding NO. It’s never okay to manipulate your own neck, no matter how good you think it feels.
The cervical spine is one of the most delicate and complex parts of your body. It consists of joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, as well as your lower brainstem and spinal cord. Arteries along the sides of your neck are responsible for sending blood directly to your brain. Meddling with it for momentary relief is ill-advised.
Read the rest of this article at Check the Neck
In 2001 backpacks were the cause of 7,000 emergency room visits! In today’s school system, with heavy school books and overstuffed bags, many kids end up carrying over a quarter of their body weight on their backs (that’s equivalent to an 180 pound man carrying over 45 pounds on his back all day!). Backpack weight can cause muscle spasms, nerve and circulation problems, and severe neck and shoulder pain.
How does a backpack damage the spine? When a heavy weight, such as a backpack filled with books, is placed on the back, the weight’s force can pull a child backward. To compensate, a child may stoop forward at the hips or arch their back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally.
The many kids who wear their backpacks slung over just one shoulder (because of course, its the “cooler” way to wear a backpack) may end up trying to offset the extra weight by unintentionally leaning the other way. This can lead to the development of lower and upper back pain and strain on their shoulders and neck.
As well, backpacks with tight, thin straps that dig into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerves.
–Your child’s backpack should never weigh more than 10% of his or her body weight!
–The backpack should never hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases weight on the shoulders.
–Buy a backpack with multiple compartments. Multiple compartments can help to more evenly distribute the weight. Make sure that bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back, and try to place the heaviest items closest to the body.
–Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps! Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
–The shoulder straps should be wide and padded. Straps that are too thin and too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.
–Talk to your child’s teacher. If the backpack is still too heavy, ask if your child could leave the heaviest books at school, and bring home only lighter handout materials or workbooks.
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BY DR. ADAM TANASE
People are rarely taught what position to sleep in or how many pillows to use. That’s because sleeping is innate. But have you ever taken a moment to assess your “pillow posture” (how your head is positioned while sleeping)? The position that’s most comfortable and “natural” for you might be creating preventable health problems…
How Many Pillows Should I Use?
Your head and neck should be lined up with the rest of your spine. Click here to see an example. This is quite difficult to achieve if you’re using multiple pillows. So sleep with just onepillow beneath your head. Make sure it’s thick enough to provide adequate alignment, but not so thick that it angles your head upward. Also make sure it’s not too thin, otherwise your head will tilt down when you’re lying on your side.
I recommend a firm low-loft latex pillow for most patients. These are neutral, affordable, and won’t break down like conventional fibers. High-loft pillows are tempting, but these are more suitable for people with broad shoulders. Here’s a picture of the difference.
An additional body pillow or separate knee pillow is fine to use as well. They’re not essential, but can help prevent you from rolling onto your stomach during the night. Here’s a contoured knee pillow for side sleepers, and here’s a bolstered knee wedge for back sleepers.
What Sleep Position is Best?
There are essentially three main sleeping positions – side, back, and stomach. While comfort is highly subjective, proper alignment isn’t. The best sleep position is one that promotes a balanced spine. Back and side sleeping can achieve this; stomach sleeping cannot. If you choose to sleep on your stomach, go for it, but you should know that over time this can cause damage to your spine and its supportive structures.
What Type of Damage?
Generally speaking, spinal damage can range anywhere from minor/moderate to severe. To avoid mass hysteria, I’m not suggesting that sleep position will cause severe problems like paralysis… But it can compound minor/moderate irritation and pre-existing spinal misalignments into measurable damage over time. I’m referring to things like hyper-mobile joints, muscle spasm, vertebral disc thinning, postural distortion and other arthritic changes.
This leads to chronic neck, back, or arm pain that can limit your ability to work and do the things you enjoy… Simple tasks like driving a car, swinging a golf club, and holding your baby can become quite uncomfortable. Here’s how to train yourself to quit.
What Does it Feel Like?
It’s tempting and logical to assume that you can feel the effects of spinal decay. While I wish that were true, it’s not always the case. The process can develop very quietly over 10-20 years (or longer) without any urgent symptoms. By the time a person finally decides to seek treatment, it may be too late. This type of decay is irreversible, so it’s important to take care of your spine while you still have options.
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