5 Steps For Safe Lifting To Avoid Back Pain

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Do you want to know why some people’s backs “go out” when bending and lifting something up? They bend and lift with bad form and do not activate their core properly.

Here are five important steps you need to take when lifting to avoid a severe episode of back pain:

  1. Position your body’s COM (center of mass) directly above the object you are lifting.
  2. Get equal pressure on the heels and balls of both feet.
  3. Keep your knees centered above your feet.
  4. Make your spine long and straight with no bending or arching.
  5. Create and maintain IAP (intra-abdominal pressure) before and throughout the entire squat and lift. Create IAP by tightening up your abdominals as if someone is going to punch you in the stomach. No sucking in your abs! Your entire abdominal wall should push out and firm up.

Creating and maintaining IAP is one of the most critical parts! Many people do not create IAP or lose it somewhere during the movement. When this happens, stress suddenly occurs in the spine and this is the reason why many backs “go out.”

How to Test Your Diaphragm for Breathing and IAP

Most people who end up in my office with back pain bend and lift with bad form. This is what causes tight muscles, discs to herniate, degenerate and spines to “wear out” over time.

We have a unique and different approach because we look for poor posture and movement patterns that are causing the pain. We then teach patients exercises that retrain their brain to move with better form to avoid future episodes of back pain.

If you or someone close to you is suffering with ongoing back problems, contact us to see if we can help.

 

8 Natural Alternatives to Flu Shots

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Many people are looking for more effective, natural alternatives to flu shots. This comes in the wake of their questionable effectiveness and their potentially harmful side effects.

Is the flu shot worth the risk and how much protection does it offer?

If you follow these eight steps, you can make your immune system stronger to stave off colds and the flu this winter and year round.

Take Vitamin D.  Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplements are 8 times more effective than flu shots!  Take 1,000-5,000IU/day (children), 5,000IU/day (teenagers), 5,000-10,000IU/day (adults).  Have blood levels tested to achieve 50-80ng.

Eat Less Sugar, Grain and Processed Foods and Eat More Fruits and Vegetables.  Sugar, grains and processed foods cause systemic inflammation and impair immune response making it much easier to get the cold and flu.

Drink Green Tea Instead of Soda.  The polyphenols in green tea are antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.  They have been shown to block viruses from spreading to other cells.

Get Your Chiropractic Adjustments!  Several studies have shown spinal adjustments stimulate the immune system into action to fight foreign viruses and bacteria.

Get Regular, Good Quality Sleep.  Try to get 6-8 hours a night and go to bed and get up at the same time every day. 

Reduce Stress and Have Effective Tools to Manage Stress. When stress builds up it wears on your immune system making you more susceptible. Make an effort to find solutions when stress builds up before it breaks you down.

Exercise on a Consistent Basis.  Exercise helps boost your immune system, increases circulation of immune cells, and is a great stress reliever.

Be Aware of Sick People Around You and Wash Your Hands. When you are around coughing sick people, avoid breathing in their germs. Also, wash your hands to reduce the chance of spreading viruses to your nose and mouth. Avoid anti-bacterial soaps as they are no more effective than regular soap and they contribute to antibiotic resistance.

 

Sources:

  1. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 10, 2010.
  2. Brennan PC, et al. Enhanced phagocytic cell respiratory burst induced by spinal manipulation: potential role of substance P. JMPT, 1991;14:399-408.
  3. Brennan PC, et al. Enhanced neurtophil respiratory burst as a biological marker for manipulation forces: duration of the effect and association with substance P and tumor necrosis factor. JMPT,1992;15:83-9.
  4. Selano JL. The effects of specific upper cervical adjustments on the CD4 counts of HIV positive patients. Chiro Res J, 1994;3:32-9.
  5. Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, Injeyan HS, McGregor M, et al. Enhancement of in vitro interleukin-2 production in normal subjects following a single spinal manipulative treatment. Chiropr Osteopat, 2008;16:5.
  6. Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, et al. Interleukin-2 regulated in vitro antibody production following a single spinal manipulative treatment in normal subjects. Chiropr Osteopat, 2010;18:26.

 

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The Diaphragm’s Role For a Healthy Spine and Body

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The diaphragm is a breathing AND a core stabilizing muscle. It must be able to switch roles and be able to perform both roles at the same time. If you are lying down, the diaphragm is dedicated solely to breathing (far left side of graph in blue). There is no external load applied to your body so the stabilizing role is absent. If you are attempting to lift a 200lb object off the floor, the diaphragm is dedicated solely to stabilizing your core and you will hold your breath throughout the movement (far right of graph in red). The breathing role is absent.Prior to any movement, the diaphragm contracts and pushes down towards the abdomen. At the same time, the abdominal wall and muscles of the pelvic floor expand and “tighten up.” This compresses the abdomen which creates intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). IT IS IAP THAT GIVES US STRENGTH, STABILIZES OUR CORE AND PROTECTS OUR SPINE FROM INJURY.

The majority of the time, the diaphragm is used for breathing and creating IAP at the same time (overlapping roles on graph). This occurs during most movements and activities, such as walking, running, repetitive tasks, etc. This is very difficult for most people to do.

How To Test Your Diaphragm

Normal Inhalation: Diaphragm pulls down, abdomen expands 360 degrees

“Flex, “tighten,” or “brace” your abdominal wall to create IAP and then breathe into your abdomen while maintaining IAP for several breaths. Your chest and shoulders should not lift up during the inhale. Your abdomen should expand and feel like it is filling with air. You should be able to keep your abdominals “flexed”/maintain IAP on the exhale. This is the hard part! If you are unable to inhale and exhale with a braced abdomen, you have a dysfunctional diaphragm.

This is the cause of many spine conditions, such as neck and back pain. This problem also has a “trickle effect” into hips and shoulders that can extend out to hands and feet. If you can’t breathe and create IAP properly, you will not only be UNABLE to correctly stabilize your core, but you will be UNABLE to correctly stabilize your hips, shoulders, etc. as well.

Testing the diaphragm is an important part of my examination process with patients. If it is not working properly, we implement treatment and exercises to rehabilitate this very important yet most neglected muscle in the body. I have helped many patients with this approach no matter what type of pain or musculoskeletal problem they have.

I help people every day with problems caused by a dysfunctional diaphragm. If you or someone you know is having ongoing spine or extremity problems, contact me to see if I can help.

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The Most Important Yet Most Neglected Muscle of The Body Part 2: Diaphragmatic (Core) Stabilization

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Have you ever wondered what it means when a trainer, therapist, or instructor asks you to “brace,” “flex” or “tighten up” your core? More importantly, are you doing it right and are you doing it “automatically” prior to and during normal movements and exercise?

This cue is given to help you create a stable core. The key to a strong, stable core and body is the ability to create pressure within the abdomen, or intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). IAP is a fundamental mechanism for you to initiate, control or even prevent movement. The amount of IAP you create is dependent on what you are doing at any given time. If you are sitting in your car on your way to work, IAP will be minimal. If you are lifting a 100 pound object off the floor, IAP will be greatly elevated. The amount of IAP is constantly regulated to match whatever movement or lifting task that you are performing.

Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP)

Want to feel IAP? Cough or make a “CH” sound. Can you feel the pressure build inside your abdomen? This is what needs to occur automatically to keep your core and spine stable to give you strength and prevent spinal injury.

How Do We Generate IAP?

The core is like a cylinder of muscles. At the top is the diaphragm, the surrounding wall consists of the abdominals and multifidus (along the spine). The bottom consists of the muscles of the pelvic floor. PRIOR TO ANY MOVEMENT, the diaphragm contracts and pushes downward towards the abdomen. At the same time, the entire abdominal wall and muscles of the pelvic floor expand, eccentrically contract and “tighten up.” This compresses all of the contents of the abdomen which creates IAP. IT IS IAP THAT GIVES US STRENGTH, STABILIZES OUR CORE AND PROTECTS OUR SPINE FROM INJURY.

What Happens If We Can’t Generate and Maintain IAP?

Lumbar Extension Stabilization Strategy

Many of us lose the ability to generate and maintain IAP because of past physical or emotional trauma, pain, injuries, etc. The diaphragm is often one of the first muscles to become dysfunctional. Portions of the muscle become “shut down” and it does not push down like it did before. The diaphragm, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles get out of sync, uncoordinated and IAP is diminished. Our only option is to compensate by adopting a lumbar extension stabilization strategy. We tighten up our low back muscles causing it to arch too much to create some semblance of core and spine stability. Unfortunately, this is not an effective long-term solution to the IAP problem. If this problem persists for too long, back muscles become tight, overused and painful, spinal discs can become injured and lower back pain eventually develops. Hip and shoulder joints also become secondary areas of abuse and wear and tear.

MUSCLE TIGHTNESS IN THE BACK IS A COMPENSATION TO THE INABILITY TO GENERATE AND MAINTAIN IAP!

Testing the diaphragm is an important part of my examination process with patients. If it is not working properly, we implement treatment and exercises to rehabilitate this very important yet most neglected muscle in the body. I have helped many patients with this approach no matter what type of pain or musculoskeletal problem they have.

I help people every day with problems caused by a dysfunctional diaphragm. If you or someone you know is having ongoing spine or extremity problems, contact me to see if I can help.

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The Most Important Yet Most Neglected Muscle of The Body Part 1: Diaphragmatic Breathing

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Right now, as you start reading this article, pay attention to your breathing. Are you breathing more in your abdomen or more in your chest? If you are unsure, place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest. Which hand is moving more? If you are breathing more in your chest, your diaphragm muscle is not working properly.

Normal Inhalation: Diaphragm pulls down, abdomen expands 360 degrees

Functions of The Diaphragm

The diaphragm has two functions. One is breathing and the other is core stabilization, which we will discuss in Part 2. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped, paper thin muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. It attaches to the bottom of the lungs and its outer edges attach to the lowest ribs and spine. When we inhale, the muscle contracts and pulls downward toward the abdomen causing it to expand outward. This creates a negative vacuum in the lungs and they fill with air. When we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes, it moves back up and we let air out.

Under normal conditions, the entire diaphragm muscle is involved in respiration and the entire abdomen expands 360 degrees like a balloon filling with air. Our bodies are getting sufficient oxygen and all is well.

Abnormal Inhalation
Chest and Diaphragm Lift up, Abdomen Pulls In

Consequences of a Dysfunctional Diaphragm

It is very common for the diaphragm to become dysfunctional and not work properly. This can be due to physical or emotional trauma, pain, etc. Portions of the muscle become “shut down” and it does not pull down like it did before. The body compensates by using other muscles to lift the chest up in order to get oxygen. Neck and shoulder muscles such as the trapezius, scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, pectorals and others become overused, tight and painful. Chest breathing can have some painful consequences, including neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and back pain.

Testing the diaphragm is an important part of my examination process with patients. If it is not working properly, we implement treatment and exercises to rehabilitate this very important yet most neglected muscle in the body. I have helped many patients with this approach no matter what type of pain or musculoskeletal problem they have.

I help people every day with problems caused by a dysfunctional diaphragm. If you or someone you know is having ongoing spine or extremity problems, contact me to see if I can help.

 

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Why You Should Not Let Your Vitamin D Go Low

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Vitamin D season is now officially over in the midwest. From September to April the sun is so low in the sky that the UVB rays (the ones that make vitamin D in our skin) simply bounce off the earth’s atmosphere. Blood vitamin D levels drop substantially if you do not take a D3 supplement throughout the winter. This can even happen in summer if you do not get enough sun exposure a few days a week. This will increase the probability of your chances of developing some of the most prevalent diseases that plague us.
Most labs and physicians say if your blood vitamin D levels are above 30, you’re good. But vitamin D research shows higher is better (see chart). If it is 30, it will help prevent heart disease, but not cancer. You need to get your D levels above 50 or even 60. I recommend taking 5,000-10,000 of D3 daily for adults. Ask you doctor to test your vitamin D and take the right amount to get in the 50-80 range. Take your “D” and stay healthy, everyone!

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Power-Packed Superfood Breakfast Smoothie

This is a smoothie I eat everyday for breakfast. It is packed with superfoods that fight cancer and it provides long-lasting energy until lunchtime. It is quick to make and you can take it on-the-go!


INGREDIENTS
1 and 1/2 cups filtered water

1 scoop protein powder  (I use NOW Foods Pea Protein Powder. It is important to avoid those with artificial sweeteners

1 handful raw almonds, walnuts, or other nuts.  Activated nuts are better (see below)

1 handful kale, spinach or other “greens”

1 tablespoon raw cacao or cocoa powder

A few dashes of turmeric, ginger and cinnamon (optional)

1/2-1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries 

1 banana

1 teaspoon of raw honey (optional, if you prefer it a little sweeter)


Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Additional Notes:  You can use any fruit you like in this recipe. If you like your smoothie thicker, use less water. If you like it thinner, use more water.

Activated Nuts:  If you want an even more nutritious nut in your smoothie, buy activated nuts (available at Whole Foods) or make them yourself.  Soak raw nuts in a bowl of filtered water for 12 hours.  Soaking removes phytic acid from the nut.  Phytic acid blocks the absorption of minerals.  Soaking also triggers the nut to begin germination which further increases its nutritional value and it can make them much easier to digest.  After soaking, allow them to dry and place in a container in your refrigerator for up to 7 days. 

Scapular Instability: A Common Source of Neck and Shoulder Pain

​Scapular instability (winging shoulder blade) is a common source of neck and shoulder pain. It is a rampant problem in people who do pushups, planks, yoga poses or any other hand or elbow support exercises. Very few trainers, coaches, yoga instructors, chiropractors or orthopedists are fixing it let alone looking for it. It is a sign of weakness/inhibition of the serratus anterior muscle and/or hyperactivity of the pecs major/minor. If there is weakness of shoulder blade muscles, neck muscles will tighten up to compensate for this weakness. It often leads to neck pain, tense shoulders, headaches and other upper extremity complaints. If you have these complaints, there is a high likelihood that you have scapular instability.

How I Test for Scapular Instability

This is a simple test I do with these patients. Simply asking them to get into quadriped position will often reveal the problem. I then ask them to rock forward, to the left, to the right and lift one hand off the floor to increase the demand to see if the scapular muscles are up to the challenge. Here you can see scapular instability (winging) on both sides. The left is worse. Coincidently, this patient has neck and shoulder pain on the left side!

How I Treat Scapular Instability

I will treat this problem by treating the patient to correct their posture and reprogram their nervous system to increase the strength of the serratus anterior and other shoulder muscles. Then we will move to corrective exercises to reinforce and maintain the strength of the shoulder blade. This approach has done wonders for many of my patients with chronic neck and shoulder pain.

Why People Develop Pain and How We Fix It (Video)

In this video, I explain how compensations from pain and injuries lead to most wear and tear conditions as we age. I also talk about what needs to happen to fix these problems in order to stop wear and tear and live a pain-free life.

Most of the conditions people see me for, whether it is neck or back pain, a hip or shoulder problem, knee pain or arthritis, they are usually caused by two things, poor posture and poor movement. Both of these eventually develop in us all as a result of the multiple falls, injuries and painful episodes we endure throughout our lifetime.

When we experience pain from an injury, our body has to compensate in the way we move so we do not cause further pain or injury to the involved tissues. These compensations are the result of our nervous system “rewiring” itself to change muscle coordination, posture and movement. Favoring an injury is a necessary strategy so we can move and do the things we need to do while the injury heals. However, after the injury heals, these compensated movements to a smaller degree, become “hardwired” in our nervous system and now becomes  detrimental to our entire body. Our breathing and core stabilization patterns become disrupted, poor posture develops, joints lose their proper alignment and stabilization abilities, movement patterns are no longer “clean” and efficient and wear and tear begins to develop somewhere in our body. THIS is the reason why we develop the arthritis’s, the tendinitises, the rotator cuff and hip problems, the disc herniations and recurring neck and back pain.

Many of us receive various treatments to alleviate these conditions, like anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone injections, electrical therapies, or even surgery. I’m sure you have had some of these things, but the most important question you need to ask yourself is,  “is it really fixing the underlying cause of the problem.” Is it fixing the poor posture and poor movements that are wearing your body down.

What needs to happen to fix these problems is a resetting of the nervous system. This is because most of the conditions we suffer from are the the result of bad wiring from past injuries. Bad wiring typically does not return to normal without the correct treatment and exercise program. So in order to fix it, you have to reset the nervous system or reset the wiring, like going to the fuse box in your house and resetting a blown circuit breaker.

My job is to find where the blown circuit is in your body and reset it like it was before. It takes a bit of detective work, but the unique assessments I do leads me to the problem most of the time. Once I find the problem, we work on resetting the nervous system to improve your posture and movement to the stop wear and tear and resulting pain. I have found this approach to give the best chance for a PERMANENT resolution for people with chronic and recurring conditions.

Every person’s condition is different and figuring out what needs to be done to fix them is always an enjoyable challenge to me. I look forward to the opportunity to finding and fixing what is ailing you and helping you achieve the pain-free lifestyle you deserve.