Eagan Chiropractor describes intermediate neck exercise

Here is a simple exercise that you can do at home with no exercise equipment.
It works the longus capitis, longus colli, SCM (sternocleidomastoid) muscles.
The purpose of this exercise is to increase neck strength and muscular endurance.
The benefits are improved stability, functional strength and injury prevention.

Begin by lying on the back with the head extended off the table, maintaining a chin tuck position.
Slowly extend the head back towards the floor and then raise the head, returning to the initial neutral starting position and repeat as instructed.
Move slowly through the range of motion.
Slowly return to start position.
Repeat for prescribed repetitions and sets.

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Importance of Blending Chiropractic Care with Back-Strengthening Exercise

Side_PlankBack problems often are a result of a bad posture that could cause severe pains.  Restoring the back to its original and natural condition takes time, and a combination of chiropractic care with the recommended exercise can dramatically enhance recovery.

A combination of the two provides numerous benefits.  Exercise keeps muscles in their proper tone, increases blood circulation around the body, improves digestion and develops a better lifestyle all together.

The following back-strengthening exercises complement the healing process greatly:

Hip Bridge

The Hip Bridge exercise strengthens those muscles near the lower back that play an important role in stabilizing the spine.

It can be carried out by lying on the back with the feet flat and about hip width apart; the knees should be bent.   The arms should be relaxed.  The person then squeezes their buttocks as they lift their hips in a straight line towards the shoulders.  After around 3 seconds, return to the starting position, slowly.

Around 12 repetitions are recommended.

Bird Dog

The bird dog exercise aims at strengthening the lower back, hip, butt and thigh muscles.

The person kneels on the floor with both hands spaced out about a shoulder-width apart.  Tuck in the belly towards the spine and raise one leg straight backwards while raising the other hand in opposite direction.

Hold in this position for 15 seconds and then return to starting point, carrying out the same procedure on the opposite side hand and leg.

Side Plank

The side plank exercise strengthens the lower back.  It is done by the following method:

The person is to lie on their right side, straight from head to the feet while resting on their forearms.  The elbow should be directly under their shoulder.  The abdominals are to be gently contracted and the hips slowly lifted off the floor – in the same straight position.

This position should be held for at least about 30 seconds before lowering the hip.

Lunge

Lunge exercises enhance a person’s overall control of their body.  This tends to protect the spine in daily activities, such as walking and running or even stair-climbing.

Starting off with the abs gently contracted.  The hands are placed on the hips; the person then takes a big step-forward using the right foot while sinking the right knee at a right-angle.

The person should then slowly return to the starting position, switch the legs and repeat – 10 repetitions are recommended.

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Chiropractics and the Importance of a Proper Diet

57925008_7e7ef4dda4_oAmong the many things that a chiropractor recommends to a patient, a healthy diet is most important. A proper diet is essential to heal the spinal cord, along with prevention of further damage.

According to a study conducted in the state of New York, chiropractors were asked if they used any nutritional counseling in their treatments, which not just includes back problems, but also obesity, artery diseases, diabetes and a variety of other diseases affecting the human body.

Around 80 percent of those surveyed stated that they did use some form of nutritional counseling in their treatments, which gives an overview of the importance of proper diet in chiropractic. 50 percent of those who used nutritional counseling considered it to be a very important part of the chiropractic therapy.

The Link between Chiropractics and Diet

Chiropractic therapy treats numerous ailments, such as inflammation in the lower back or autoimmune anomalies like arthritis, scoliosis, neuritis or osteoarthritis. Research suggests that dietary changes can affect inflammation, which in turn can reduce the symptoms and pain caused by it. Also, most chiropractic patients are women, other symptoms that they may suffer from, such as menopause and premenstrual syndromes, can also be cured by proper diet and nutrition.

Not only that, but a proper diet can also help prevent spinal diseases from developing. As obesity is one of the most common causes of back problems, eating healthy non-fat foods can make a person less prone to spinal diseases like Sciatica.

There are numerous benefits in keeping a healthy diet, including increased energy, lower blood pressure and improved cognition, which result in a speedy recovery. Health foods such as low sugar whole grains, fruits and vegetables also reduce the risk of spinal tumors and cancer.

Improper nutrition, such as an excess of salts in the diet, can result in several other diseases as well, including high blood pressure. There is a direct link established between diabetes and excess Carbohydrates in the diet.

As dietary needs differ from individual to individual, you can ask your chiropractor to make a nutritional plan for you to follow according to your needs. A chiropractor could assess the nature of your ailment and devise a dietary schedule specifically suited to treat your condition.

 

Image Used under Creative Commons license. Photo Credit: Fruit & Vegetable Box by Ali Karimian

Why Spinal Surgery is a Bad Idea

Illu_vertebral_columnBecause it takes the smallest mistake to permanently paralyze a healthy individual, a fact that any chiropractor will attest to. There is always a risk of injury involved in spinal surgery.

Almost 80% of the people in the country will complain about lower back pain at some point in their lives. More work days are missed because of spinal pain than any other sort of ailment. This also places it as one of the most common causes of disabilities right after cardiovascular disease.

However, most people would rather seek the services of certified chiropractors than their doctors. Doctors usually prescribe numbing medication or painful surgical procedures like spinal surgery for patients who complain of repetitive chronic pain. But that is hardly a permanent solution and also involves a great deal of risks.

What can go Wrong:

Transitional Syndrome

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the spine has to do with its behavior. Your spine behaves like a chain of repeated segments. Each of the individual segments works as a whole to share the workload that is involved in moving the body by sharing the load along the spinal column. In other words the stress that is imposed on the spine during the movement is shared amongst the segments.

However such a process can only happen seamlessly when the spine is healthy. When one or more of the segments doesn’t work as they should their neighboring segments have to pick up the slack and work harder. The segment that is closest to the dysfunctional one gets most of the stress. This means that the area near where the spinal surgery was performed takes on more stress.  This is what is known as transitional syndrome since it occurs due to the transition of a healthy area of the spine to the fused area.

General practitioners and even orthopedic surgeons can never claim to know what causes pain in the back. To them, complex procedures like spinal surgery appear as handy default treatments. This is not to mention the disastrous residual pain that is caused by inappropriate surgery. Such a complication is more of a possibility after common spinal surgeries, such as laminectomies, in which a disc is removed to give the nerve near the central spinal cord more space to move, or fusion, in which a vertebra is surgically joined to another to restrict excess movement.

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Back Problems in Teens

1109px-Heelstretch_PyramidWill a chiropractor ever treat an adolescent during his professional career? Junior took a baseball right in the back. Julie fell off the human pyramid during cheerleading practice and landed on her back. Needless to say, parents of athletic adolescents are usually first in line at the chiropractic office.

Can Teens Suffer from Back Problems?

While back problems are more common in adults, they are a rarity in teens since the latter is more flexible and agile. That is why any backaches that accompany any athletic event (such as contact sports) should be immediately checked by a chiropractor.

Back Conditions in Teens

Back conditions that can affect teens or kids include –

  • Any pain that worsens by performing gymnastic activities such as handsprings or the butterfly stroke in swimming may be indicative of spinal conditions such as Spondylolysis. Younger athletes have more chances of developing the condition than older kids who take part in sporting activities.  The condition is often caused by over-use that causes constant trauma and is one of the most common causes of back pain in kids.
  • This is also why the condition has more chances of occurring during a teen’s growth spurt, which is also why it is more common in boys rather than girls. A chiropractor might diagnose Spondylolysis in teens who are aged between 15 and 16. 
  • Any type of backache that causes compromises a teen’s balance or coordination may be caused by a problem in the spinal cord.

Adolescents and teens might put themselves in dangerous situations more than the average five year old, but the fact remains that they are still kids.  In other words, they tend to be more aggressive in their activities than younger children. A four year old will probably not stick his hand in a light socket if he has been electrocuted once. However an adolescent will have to keep stressing his back especially if he is pressured to make a tackle or prevent a touchdown in order for his team to win.

Parents cannot stop commercial advertising or peer pressure that expects their kids to push the envelope, but they can educate on taking better care of themselves. A teenager can always be grounded if he/she doesn’t comply to the rules, but parents will be helpless if a backache worsens or worse, ends up paralyzing their child.

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Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

154017705_083d825445_oChiropractors that are experienced in chiropractic and pregnancy know the importance of proper back care during such a sensitive period. All chiropractors are trained to work with women especially when it comes to back conditions that are associated with pregnancy. This is because chiropractic and pregnancy involves the maintenance of the spinal column, discs, bone geometry and the related nerves without the inclusion of invasive surgery. In other words, the medical practice adjusts the misalignment of joints especially when it comes to the spine.

Any formerly pregnant woman can attest to the muscle strain that is a part and parcel to pregnancy. Researchers say that almost half of all expecting mothers will experience lower back pain at some point during their pregnancy. Spinal surgery is out of the question when it comes to the well being of two lives and this is exactly why chiropractic care is the perfect non-invasive solution for such problems.

 

Why does a Pregnant Woman need Chiropractic care?

The human body undergoes a series of physiological and endocrine changes to prepare itself to sustain a life during pregnancy. No one knows that better than expecting mothers. However, such a sensitive stage may also cause misaligned joints that are symptomatic of –

  • Pelvic changes
  • Protruding abdomen and curved back
  • Poor posture

A woman’s pelvis may not have enough room for a developing baby if it is misaligned. This is also why establishing pelvic balance is such an important task in chiropractic and pregnancy care. A pelvis that is misaligned may also cause complications during the actual birth as well. This may also prevent the expecting mother from having a natural birth and her doctor to resort to invasive c-sections.

Chiropractic care during pregnancy also comes with the following benefits –

  • Ensuring a healthy pregnancy
  • Relief from back, neck and joint pain
  • Prevention of a potential cesarean delivery
  • Reducing the time of labor and delivery
  • Reduce morning sickness

The benefits of chiropractic and pregnancy speak for themselves. This is also why more women are seeking chiropractic care now more than ever before and why health care providers recommend such services to expecting mothers. It is easy to see why. Medical specialists who specialize in back care invest more in the fertility and overall wellness of pregnant women or women who try to conceive.

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Types of Diets Recommended by Chiropractors

4846334195_77c3c91886_oChiropractic Care gives great importance to a healthy and balanced diet.  A lot of ailments and diseases can be avoided just by adhering to a proper diet.  A good diet can help a person to lead a long, healthy life, control weight, blood pressure and heart rate.

It is a fact that Americans are overfed, while being undernourished.  Scores of fast food chains have made unhealthy eating habits a part of the American lifestyle.  Such high cholesterol foods coupled with a sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity.  With obesity come a lot of complications including heart diseases and blood pressure problems.

There is no doubt that a well-balanced diet consists of a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, a reduction in caffeine intake and saturated fats.

A chiropractor may recommend one of the following diets based on your body’s needs:

High Protein Diet

A high protein diet is recommended for those who aim to build muscles without accumulating too much fat. High protein foods include:

  • Turkey breast
  • Fish
  • Cheese (low fat varieties)
  • Beef (low fat)
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Nuts

Heart-Healthy Diet

A heart healthy diet usually consists of a lot of vegetables and fruits along with large intakes of whole grains.  It may also contain low-fat meats, including fish and poultry. Special emphasis should be given to fish as it is a very healthy source of protein, Omega 3 and little fat.

Following combination of fruits and vegetables are extremely nutritious and a healthy choice for heart-healthy dieters:

  • Pineapples
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Watermelon
  • Oranges

Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet can be recommended for those who prefer to lead a meat-free lifestyle, for whatever the reason.  Several types of diets are based on vegetarianism:

Lacto-Vegetarian: These diets include no meat of any kind or eggs.  However they do include dairy products like butter, milk, cheese and yogurt.

Ovo -Vegetarian: This diet contains no red meat, seafood, poultry or even dairy products, however it does include eggs.

Vegan: The strictest of all, excludes all meats, fish, eggs and dairy products.

Flexitarian: As its name implies, this diet is flexible. It mainly consists of vegetables and fruits, with occasional consumption of meat, fish or poultry.

No matter which diet is recommended by a chiropractor or dietician, a balanced lifestyle that includes plenty of activities can go a long way in extending the life of a person.

 

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Nutrition and Diet for Scoliosis

150px-Blausen_0785_Scoliosis_01A chiropractor will advise a scoliosis patient to follow a specific type of diet. Scoliosis is a medical condition in which the spine bends to one side. The lower part of the spine is the most common area in which the condition occurs.

The condition is more prevalent in girls rather than boys and usually happens during puberty when the child experiences a growth spurt. Back specialists recommend an adequate amount of nutrition for children who suffer from the condition. The diet is meant to increase bone mass.

Since the condition is hereditary a proper diet might not prevent the onset of scoliosis. However foods that support bone mass are likely to prevent osteoporosis. In fact, according to the University of Washington Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine osteoporosis can actually worsen scoliosis since it can worsen the curve of the spine when the child reaches adulthood.

If your child suffers from scoliosis it is best that you enrich his/her diet with foods that contain vitamin D and Calcium. Not only do they increase bone mass, they also prevent osteoporosis.

Calcium

Children who suffer from scoliosis are recommended to consume between 1200 to 1500mg of calcium on a daily basis. Just make sure that any low fat sources of calcium do not contain high levels of saturated fats. For example, such a diet should contain food items such as skim cheese or yogurt.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps a person’s body absorb calcium. This is also why your mom nagged you about consuming milk on a daily basis. It is packed with the nutrient. Other sources of Vitamin D include saltwater fish, eggs, cod liver oil and cereal.

The nutrient phosphorous is also responsible for bone growth. The human body also uses phosphorus to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D and encourage proper absorption of calcium.

Vitamin E

Vitamin D and calcium aren’t the only nutrients that can prevent a case of scoliosis from getting worse. After all, a child who suffers from the condition will also need a healthy dose of Vitamin E everyday to build strong muscles to support a compromised spine.

Some of the best sources of the nutrient include liver walnuts, almonds, mayonnaise, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, safflower oil, olive oil and others.

Remember a child who suffers from scoliosis needs a diet that prevents his/her condition from getting worse especially after puberty.

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Sciatica, Chiropractic and Pregnancy – What to Expect

SciaticaPregnancySciatica – What is it?

According to chiropractic practices, Sciatica is a common type of pain that affects the sciatic nerve which is a large nerve that extends from an individual’s lower back down the back of each leg. The sciatic nerve also happens to be the largest single nerve in the human body. It is composed of individual nerve roots that branch out from the spine in the lower back and come together to form the sciatic nerve.

A person who suffers from the condition may exhibit the following symptoms –

  • Burning or tingling sensation down the leg
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Difficulty moving the leg or foot
  • Constant pain on one side of the rear
  • Shooting pain that increases when the individual tries to stand up

The pain that is associated with sciatica usually extends from the lower back through the back of the thigh and down the leg. It often occurs on one side of the body. It can also be debilitating to some. The symptoms of sciatica also vary according to where the nerve is pinched. For example, an impingement in the lumbar segment 5 (L5) can cause weakness in extending the big toe and in some cases, the ankle.

Sciatica and Pregnancy

Sciatica is also a common condition in pregnant women and usually appears during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is caused when a woman’s expanding uterus ends up putting pressure on the sciatic nerve on the lower spine. The same occurrence is also known to cause lower back pain during pregnancy. The reason the condition occurs during the third trimester is due to the fact that the growing baby shifts into the proper birthing position during this time. This makes the developing fetus rest directly on the nerve which causes the mother major pain in the buttocks. The pain also radiates to the back and legs.

The pain can be constant or intermittent depending on how many times the baby changes position. However, the lower back pain may also persist after birth.

Fortunately there are ways through which a person might be able to rid herself of the pain. Some women say that a cold or hot compress to the affected area can help lessen the pain. Just make sure that the heating pad isn’t too uncomfortably hot. Getting off your feet and walking around can also help get rid of the pain.

Chiropractic and Pregnancy

There are also patients who have sought out chiropractic services instead of opting for spinal surgery for cases such as these. It is easy to see why. Chiropractic care is non invasive and relies on the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

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Types of Back pain

Posterior_view_of_lumbar_region_for_electrostimulation_electrode_placementAs any good chiropractor would tell you, there is no single cause of back pain. This is because back pain can occur due to various reasons, and affect different areas. It is important that you have an understanding of the nature of your ailment before going to the chiropractor for treatment.

Location Of The Pain

Back pain is classified in two categories, depending on where the pain occurs.

Upper Back Pain

Pain in the upper back, shoulders or neck is termed as upper back pain. There can be certain causes of upper back pain, such as stretched tendons or damaged ligaments due to strenuous physical work. Upper back pains aren’t as common as lower back pains, and can be treated by taking pain relievers such as Paracetamol or by visiting a Chiropractor.

Lower Back Pain

Like the name suggests, lower back pains are directed at the base of the back, and occur due to the overstretching of muscles in the lower back or direct injury to that area. This pain can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as lifting something heavy or bending in an awkward position. Treatment for lower back pains is the same as for upper back pains.

Duration Of The Pain

Besides location, pain can also be classified according to duration.

Acute Back Pain

A short term pain, lasting from a few days to weeks, is called an acute back pain. There may be numerous causes of this pain, the most common being blunt trauma caused by Ankylosing spondilytis, arthritis or other medical conditions.

The symptoms of this pain can range from muscular aches and incorrect posture to shooting pains in the buttocks and back of the legs. Acute back pain can lead to serious problems, but is generally harmless, and most people tend to let it heal itself.

Chronic Back Pain

If the pain lasts for more than 3 months, it is termed as chronic back pain. The cause of chronic back pain can rarely be determined without the help of a Chiropractor or other medical professional. This long term pain gets progressively worse with time; immediate treatment is necessary to prevent further complications.

Now that you know what type of back pain you suffer from, you can act on them by looking up for home treatments online, or doing exercises which may stimulate the back. It is also recommended that you visit your nearest chiropractor who could suggest you treatment options.

 

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