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Archive for October, 2014

Back Pain from Leaf Raking

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Every single year at this time, I have people complain about back pain from leaf raking.

My best advice—-use your teenage slave labor to help them pay for their activity fees. My second best advice- hire it out. Is it expensive? They range from about $50 to $500. It’s worth getting a bid. I can guarantee that two weekends of your life and constant stiffness and soreness is probably worth at least $100. (Especially when you will have to pay it to me anyway to fix you) I have a point, don’t I?!

If you are going to rake those leaves yourself, follow the following advice.

First–Use a blower. Much better for your back than actually raking.

Second–Whether using a blower or rake, switch sides. If you are very dominant on one particular side, it is good for you to do it differently. You might be clumsy at first, but as my chiropractic training proves, you can learn how to use them both equally. It takes two hands to be a chiropractor…obviously. I was born right handed. After all these years, I am pretty ambidextrous. Switching will spread the work out and help you use your muscles equally on both sides.

Third- Use a wheelbarrow to move your big heavy leaf bags and don’t let them get wet before you bring them to the curb. They are really heavy then.

Fourth- Take frequent breaks. Just like any repetitive physical task, it isn’t good to do it for hours on end. Take a break every 20-30 minutes to stretch and do something different.

Fifth- Stretch afterwards and if you need it, use an ice pack. Do NOT use heat. I repeat, do NOT use heat unless you want back spasms.

Sixth- Pre-schedule an appointment with your chiropractor. You are going to need it and even if you don’t immediately feel pain, just know it is good to go in and preserve the alignment of your spine and get it moving and functioning at it’s best.

Treatment Options for Shoulder Pain

Friday, October 24th, 2014

There comes a time in most people’s lives where they are looking for treatment option for shoulder pain. I am currently in one of those times myself. After separating my shoulder six months ago while adjusting a patient and straining my rotator cuff, I have been “lucky” to learn all kinds of new stuff on shoulder injuries when it comes to treating my patients. (and myself unfortunately!)

The biggest realization I have had is that your body’s ability to stabilize your shoulder blade to your trunk regardless of the injury is the most important thing. What does that mean to you? If you sit with poor posture and rounded shoulders and engage in the turtle pose while at your computer all day, your shoulder injury is going to be much more painful. One of the most effective yet basic exercises I give people and do myself are shoulder blade pinches. You bring your shoulder blades together and down without moving your arms and hold it for 5 seconds. I do 30 in my car on the way to work. I also make sure my spine is in very good alignment by getting regular chiropractic adjustments. I get my spine adjusted weekly. After my adjustment, even if she doesn’t touch my shoulder, it feel better. I also get regular treatment of deep muscle stripping and chiropractic adjustments to my clavicle, scapula and humerus.

The second of the treatment options for shoulder pain that I have found to be incredibly effective is kinesiotaping. Kinesiotape is that colorful tape you see all over the beach volleyball players during the Olympics. It’s easy to spot since these people barely wear what can be considered swim suits! When you are kinesiotaped properly, you should have some sort of instant gratification. The biggest problem I see is when people buy it at a sporting goods store and put it on their body themselves and end of thinking it doesn’t work. It definitely doesn’t work if it isn’t put on properly AND just because you followed the instructions that came with the box, doesn’t mean you put it on the right way for your injury. I don’t even kinesiotape myself. You simply can’t hold the proper alignment and put the tape on most parts of your body. To learn how to tape properly, I learned from several doctors over the years plus attended two 8 hour seminars simply on taping. On top of that, to tape properly you need a strong background in dissection anatomy. In the case that you weren’t in the lucky segment of society that spend 8 hours a week dissecting a cadaver for 8 months of your life, you probably don’t have the background you need to tape yourself properly.

One of the most helpful treatment options for shoulder pain that I have pursued has been a weekly Pilates practice. Every time I go to Pilates class, my shoulder feels significantly better. I am sure it has a lot to do with the strength building that helps stabilize my shoulder.

If you suffer from shoulder pain, please seek chiropractic care from someone who has experience treating extremities and also who is experienced in applying kinesiotape. You will feel so much better!

Exercise Habits as You Age

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

An important topic for athletes to consider are the changes to make in your exercise habits as you age. Though my older friends disagree, when I divide 90 by 3, it puts in solidly in the middle aged category. Personally I think their disagreement is their own denial but it makes for a lot of fun conversations. As I have gotten older, I have had to change my exercise habits to keep the injuries at bay and feel good post workout.

When I was in grad school, it was nothing for me to go to a step aerobics class in the morning and a high impact aerobics class in the afternoon. Exercise is my Prozac and increasing the stress levels, just means I need more exercise to combat it. Fifteen years later, even one step aerobics class would probably leave me sore and twisted up for a week so I have needed to change my exercise habit as I have aged.

As I have started rounding the corner on 40, I have to add in activities that keep me limber and strong. Cross fit and old school weight lifting have gone away and I have replaced the 140lb squats with one legged squats on unstable surfaces or using TRX bands. I have also added in a pilates class at least once a week. If you haven’t tried pilates, it is hard as heck.. It took me going twice a week for two months before I was strong enough to not have back pain afterwards. If you have done pilates and it didn’t kick your butt, you weren’t paying attention to form and you were doing it wrong.

As far as running is concerned, I love running. Not because it feels good on my body, but because its very nature calms my mind. When I developed an awful case of plantar fascitis a few years ago, it was time to change that up. Obviously, I couldn’t run for awhile however, I fell in love with biking. I still run on occasion with my big dog trotting not too far behind but mainly I bike. My feet, knees and back feel better now and I find it a great stress reliever. ¬†As you age, runners need to focus on strength building and rest days from running.

As for feeling better in the morning post exercise, we really need to stretch after our workouts. When you are younger, you can get away without stretching for a short time but take advantage of that too much when you are young and you develop really shortened muscles and a lot of stiffness that doesn’t have to be there. Does stretching always feel good? Absolutely not but you still need to do it. As far as how far to push yourself; if you can’t breathe there, you shouldn’t be there.

One last thing, don’t underestimate recovery days. I fully subscribe to the theory of “everyone needs to break a sweat every single day”. However, some of those days I do it by hitting up a big Three Rivers Park and going on a seven mile walk. Though I would feel as if I cheated the workout gods when I was 23 by walking, now, that definitely counts as exercise.

The biggest thing you can do to keep your body limber, fit and injury free is to change what you do every day. Using different muscles and joints in different directions is the key to spreading out the force and keeping your body healthy as you (we) age.

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