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Archive for the ‘Stretches’ Category

Best Stretches for Downhill Ski Instructors

Monday, October 30th, 2017

I was invited to give a presentation on the best stretches for downhill ski instructors last week. As we talked about to the Blizzards instructors; the most loaded muscle group in downhill skiing is the hip flexor group. On top of that, most of us here in Minnesota aren’t making our living on the slopes. It’s a part time hobby. Most money making is happening while sitting at a desk. Prolonged sitting causes chronically shortened hip flexors.

Chronically shorted and stressed hip flexors cause lower back pain, knee pain and all sorts of other pains.

Here are a couple stretches you can do to stretch your hip flexors.

Full quad and hip flexor stretch

This is me in the picture and I will be the first to admit that the picture does a poor job of representing that your pelvis, shoulders and head should be facing forward. Make the correction on yourself and see how different it feels.

Stretch for the lower quad

Here is another great stretch for downhill ski instructors. It is vital for people with chronic knee pain. If you need a modification, grab on to your pant leg, use a band around your ankle or put your foot on a chair. If you have balance issues, you can also do this one lying on your belly. If you have balance issues you should however work on standing on one leg.

IT Band Stretch

This is the stretch I was demonstrating this weekend on top the circular table. It is a great IT band stretch for people with knee pain and hip pain. IT bands are notoriously hard to stretch so if this one doesn’t work for you, change the angle a little bit and see if you can find your stretch point.

If you want to take these stretches to the next level, here is a little video to follow along with that I put together specifically for hip flexors stretches. It is more related to runners and bikers but really the stretches aren’t much different.

As I stressed in our talk, you want to start the ski season healthy. If you have nagging injuries that you’ve been ignoring or stiffness and soreness that is causing you to feel old before your time, call me. I would love to be your chiropractor and help you feel better. Like you, I want to be still enjoying my sports 20 years from now and taking care of small injuries before they become big injuries is the best way to do that.

Neck Exercises to Relieve Neck and Upper Back Pain

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

I recently made this video for a patient. She was having some pinching in her upper back and shoulder blade area. She’s been adjusted twice this week. The adjustments are slowly improving things her pain. While the time for my Hollywood film career is long past, hopefully the exercises in this video will help her and you. These exercises are designed to support chiropractic care. The exercises will not replace a quality skilled adjustment.

Here is today’s feature film:

If you have any questions on how to relieve your neck pain, or you are looking for a chiropractor, I would love to have you as a patient. You can reach me at 763-553-0387 or email me at

Basic Lower Back Stretches

Friday, October 21st, 2016

This video is for patients of my chiropractic office that I have sent to this webpage. If you are doing this without my ok, you are doing it at your own risk. These are good stretches for general lower back pain. I tend to do these exact three each time I get off my bike or finish my workouts. I highly recommend stretching post activity. Also, you should hold stretches for 30-60 seconds when stretching statically. If you are one of my patients, ask me if this would be appropriate for you. If you are not one of your patients, talk to your own chiropractor or physical therapist to understand which stretches are safe for you.

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.

Yes, yoga can cause back pain

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Even the best cures can cause back pain and yoga is no different. The answer is yes, even as much as yoga can help back pain, yoga can cause back pain.

How is this possible? There are several ways that yoga can cause back pain. Let’s get a few things straight first. I am a trained yoga teacher who taught yoga for several years. I practice yoga myself. On top of that, I have an anatomy, physiology and injury prevention knowledge base that 99.99% of yoga teachers do not have. Yoga can be great for you in moderation and can help you resolve stiffness and tension in your body that has troubled you over a lifetime. Yoga can also be party to debilitating back and neck injuries. I have personally witnessed people blow discs in their back while practicing. I have personally taken care of many yoga instructors and yoga students who think that even though they practice yoga five days a week, their spinal pain can be resolved with even more flexibility.

Who are the people most likely to be injured at any activity? Research shows again and again, it;s your five percent least flexible and your five percent most flexible who find themselves in the most trouble. When I was teaching, it was hard to me to understand why so many of my co-teachers had more pain than any of their students and failed to see the cause.

Here are a few ways you can avoid hurting yourself. First, if you can’t breathe there, you shouldn’t be there. If you can’t comfortably inhale and exhale in a relaxed manner you are pushing yourself too hard. The goal isn’t to push yourself until you are able to tie yourself in a knot. It’s to relax your body as well as your mind and be healthy.

Second, building strength is just as important as building flexibility. This especially applies to women. If you are doing yoga twice a week, you should be doing strength training twice a week. No exceptions.

Third–common sense needs to prevail. If you inherently know that your body can’t bend like the teacher in the demonstration pose or have a fear of a pose, listen to your brain and don’t do it.

Finally- If you do yoga on even a weekly basis and your back pain or any other injury isn’t resolving, yoga isn’t going to solve it. It’s time to hit the chiropractors office and find out why you are in pain and create a strategy to solve it.

Back Pain and Pinched Nerve Pain During Golf

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Have you ever had back pain and pinched a nerve during golf? It hurts and early in the season it is more common than you think.

What causes back pain and pinched nerve pain during golf? Typically it is a result of spinal damage, poor technique or both. If your spine does not move properly on a segmental basis, meaning each vertebra needs to rotate, flex, extend and side bend on top of the others, it will be much more easily injured when brought through extreme ranges of motion. Also, if you have any prior history of disc disease or spinal injiury and arthritis of any sort, it is more likely to be easily injured. Is there hope for your golf game even with a little (or a lot) of spinal damage? Absolutely. Here are a few tips to get you golfing with less pain.

First, you need to properly warm up before you golf. This does involve being willing to look a little stupid in front of your friends so you will need to suck it up to feel good. I would suggest doing planks or sit ups to activate your core muscles and prepare them to contract during your golf swing. Doing walking lunges will also help warm up your legs and butt muscles. I also recommend doing spinal rotation while keeping your hips very still and quiet. Going back and forth several dozen times will help your body prepare for the extreme rotation associated with golf.

Secondly, you know your back always feels sore after your first few times golfing. Pre schedule your visit with your chiropractor before you hurt yourself. The old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies here. My patients that get adjusted regularly and take care of their spine with regular chiropractic care have better swing mechanics, less pain during their round and less recovery time. They end up playing a lot more golf in the season because they are not stopped by pain. Tiger Woods has had his own private chiropractor his entire career and while he has recently been sidelined, he has been quoted numerous times on what an invaluable member of his team his chiropractor has been.

Thirdly, make sure you have good swing technique. Don’t try to evaluate this yourself. A PGA pro will be the best person to help you improve your swing mechanics to avoid damaging your back.

At Active Family Chiropractic, we are always here to hep you feel better. Call us to schedule your appointment and let us know ahead of time if you would like to bring your golf club with for a swing analysis.

Exercise and Back Pain

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Exercise and back pain: after new years resolutions start, pain isn’t far behind.  Far be it for any chiropractor to discourage new business. However, I’d rather see you when you are feeling good than when you are buckled over and dragging a leg behind you. Injuring yourself having fun is not fun!

In the 13 years that I have been a chiropractor, I have seen everything. I have had patients crawl out of the back of a Suburban like a big St Bernard after being driven to my clinic by their wives. People have called me from their toilet after sitting down and not being able to get up. You name it, I’ve seen it.

Since last month’s article was worthless after two feet of snow fell. (It was on yard work and biking) I’m going to take another stab at giving you tips to not hurt yourself having fun.

#1–Runners-You are probably expecting me to tell you to not run, it is bad for your joints. I love to run. Run your little hearts out. Just remember that rest days and cross training are essential for athletes of all sports. If you are going to train 15 mile weeks, concentrate on three separate five mile runs, not five three-mile runs.

#2–Cross Train-Whatever you do the most of, your body will mold in that position. That is why we see so many bikers with neck pain, desk jockeys with pain between their shoulder blades and yoga junkies with bad knees and shoulders because their bodies get too flexible. Without each element of fitness: cardio, strength and flexibility, your program is not complete.

#3–Include low/no impact activities to keep yourself strong and injury free. Yoga, pilates, paddle boarding…all wonderful things to mix into your cardio and strength training. They are also the most frequently missed aspects of a workout program. All incorporate a lot of stretching and strength of the little stabilizer muscles in your core. You would be surprised how much better your back feels after paddleboarding or pilates.

#4–Don’t forget the weights. I was playing tennis last summer at the Bell Courts. There was a great group of 70 year old ladies playing next to my friend and I. The ladies that were in great shape and still able to play tennis, were the ladies with the muscles. Strength training helps with posture, osteoporosis, your clothing fitting better, looking great on the boat this summer and simply feeling strong and confident.

If you have managed to wreck yourself already this year, I love seeing new patients. You can call my Plymouth office at 763-553-0387 and speak with me personally. We can figure out what you need to get back to having fun.

Keys to Flexibility During Winter

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Do you ever wonder why you have lose your flexibility during winter and have more pain when you are cold? It’s simple. When you are cold, your muscles stiffen and shorten. How can you avoid the chronic discomfort most people feel in the winter? Follow these three simple steps.

1) When it is cold outside, wear a scarf. When your neck gets cold, the front of your neck muscles (the sternocleidomastoids) shorten and stiffen. This can result in simple neck stiffness or even bad headaches.

2) Focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears. Hunching them up doesn’t keep you warm, it just makes you stiffer.

3) Make sure you warm your muscles up before strenuous physical activity. Shoveling snow when you are tight and stiff or trying to lift something heavy without warming up your muscles first is only asking for trouble.

4) If you really want to improve your flexibility during winter, with all the time you spend hibernating, try to develop a few hobbies to escape the cold weather.  You would be shocked how effective a once a week pilates or yoga class can be to improve your flexibility.  Winter is a perfect time to explore whether you like this form of exercise or not since there are so many limitations with outdoor activities.

5) While I mentioned scarves will keep your neck muscles warm and reduce the clenching, make sure you don’t have so much stuffed around your neck along the inside of your coat that it is pushing your head forward.  Also, long and heavy scarves can cause neck pain by increasing the weight hanging around your neck.  While it seems so minimal, wearing it all day can also cause you to stiffen up and lose flexibility during winter months.

Eliminating post-workout knee soreness

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Any one who has injured their knee will tell you that knee injuries can stick with you for a very long time. The good news is that most knee injuries don’t involve major trauma and injury to the ligaments of the knee. In my Plymouth chiropractic office, most knee injuries that I see are simply the result of stiffness and soreness that gets ignored and eventually leads to problems with tracking of the knee cap.

Before you workout, take a few simple steps to get the fluid in your knees moving around and lubricating the cartilage. Begin by taking a couple of deep knee bends and then bring your feet close together, put your hands on your knees and rotate your knees in a big circle clockwise, then counter clockwise. This simple step will help your knees be more mobile and ready for your workout.

Deep Knee Bends

Knee Rolls

IT Band Stretch

Stretch for Lower Quad

Full Quad and Hip Flexor Stretch

AFTER you workout, is the time for stretching your quads and IT Band. If your quad (which is called the quad because it is made up of 4 sections of muscle in the front of your leg) and IT band are too tight, your knee cap will be pulled up and down your leg unevenly. (patellar mistracking syndrome or runners knee) This will cause the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap to grind and wear down unevenly and result in pain.

Two additional things that may help are custom orthotics and chiropractic adjustments to the knees. I personally can attest that I couldn’t run without my orthotics and/or chiropractor. I have had several pairs of orthotics made over the last 12 years and have benefited from countless trips to my chiropractor over the years for specific work on my knee. If you are looking for help with your knee pain relief, please call my office. I have been fortunate enough 🙂 to have a little too much experience working with knee problems and have become quite experienced with what works and what doesn’t work.

Sorry about the model used in the photographs. Claudia Schiffer wasn’t available on Active Family Chiropractic’s modeling budget so I had to use myself instead!

Attention Chiropractors

My blog articles represent my intellectual property. If you are interested in using them on your blog, please call me at 763-553-0387 for my permission. Thank you.