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Avoid back pain by avoiding sit-ups

Sit-ups have been a staple of many fitness programs. However it has been know for quite sometime in the rehab community that sit-ups place a tremendous amount of stress on your low back. The dangers of sit-ups have finally hit mainstream with the Canadian Armed Forces removing it from their fitness test and now a push for it to be removed from the Navy fitness test. To read more about the dangers of sit-ups and alternative exercises check out this Wall Street Journal article titled, Why You Can Stop Doing Sit-Ups by Rachel Bachman.

Having pain during exercise is a big red flag that should be checked out. Please click the button below to ask any questions you may have or call our office 716-629-3100 to speak directly to Dr. Phipps. The faster you have a diagnosis the faster you can get back to a pain free life and avoid permeant injury.

September Sleep Challenge

Topic: Sleep 

Cliff notes from The Power of Sleep by Alice Park (Original article found here).

-Getting the recommended seven to eight hours each night can improve concentration, sharpen planning and memory skills and maintain the fat-burning systems that regulate our weight.

-Teens should get 9 hours of sleep a night.

-Sleep is the only time that your brain can catch its breath.  Brain cells are like overworked employees, eventually they will collapse. Recent studies have even shown that lack of sleep can lead to brain cell death essentially accelerating the aging of our brain.

-Expose yourself to as much natural light as possible during the day.

-Limit your exposure to artificial light at night especially from smart phones, computers, and television.

-You have to train your body to go to bed and wake up at a similar time every day.

-Creating a sleep ritual can make sleep something we look forward to rather than something we feel obligated to do; so we’re more likely to get our allotted time instead of skipping it. A favorite book, a warm bath or other ways to get drowsy might prompt us to actually look forward to unwinding at the end of the day.

My two cents: Patients who get a good night sleep, stay active, and eat a balanced diet always respond faster to treatment. If you are experiencing any pain, come in to be evaluated and take on the challenge below.

Challenge:

If you sleep more than 8 hours, congratulations…but this challenge isn’t for you. If you sleep less than 8 hours, then add 30 minutes on to your current average sleeping time.  Try this for the next 2 weeks and slowly add time until you are in the 7-8 hour range. It will be hard at first but your body will eventually figure it out.  I personally had great luck with reading a book and avoiding television, my computer, and my phone 30 minutes to an hour before bed. Evaluate your kids sleep habits as well since they should be getting 9 hours of sleep.

I would love to hear your success stories in the future. Going from 5 hrs a night to 7 hrs will make you feel like a completely different person. Post your stories to help motivate others at our Facebook page (Muscle and Joint Chiropractic Facebook).

 

Quick Health Tips – April 2015

Exercise

Check out this recent article:

5 Tips to Maintaining Muscle Health

These 5 tips do what brushing your teeth does…but for your muscles.

Nutrition

Check out this article on the benefits of grass fed butter.

Grass-fed Butter is a Superfood for the Heart

The next time you are at Wegmans pick up Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter and give it a try.

Cooking

If you like pumpkin, then you’ll love this protein shake recipe from paleomg.com.

pumpkin gingerbread protein shake

Lifestyle/Random

Put a few tennis balls in socks and throw them in with your laundry to cut down on drying time. This is especially helpful with jeans and towels.

Assess your mobility

Find a mirror and lift your arms overhead. It should be easy to hold your biceps to your head (covering your ears) without shrugging your shoulder or having to force it. If this is hard to do or your biceps are not touching your head, then you are at higher risk of developing shoulder and neck pain. Make an appointment today before neck and shoulder pain slow you down this summer.

Muscle adhesion will limit this motion and cause pain. Watch the video below to learn more about muscle adhesion.

5 Tips to Maintaining Muscle Health

Most of us perform preventative daily rituals to maintain our health. We brush and floss to prevent cavities and gingivitis. We manage our diet to avoid diabetes and high cholesterol. We take vitamin D during the winter to prevent a deficiency. But what are we doing for our muscles? Taking care of our muscles is important to prevent degeneration of joints and pain. Ultimately we want to wake up in the morning without pain and do the things we enjoy pain in life for as long as possible. Here are 5 tips to help you toward that goal.

Tip #1: Listen to your body and don’t abuse it.

I find that this is the one that sounds the easiest to implement but very few people actually do. We commonly abuse our body to the point where we have to either stop doing the activity or take pain medicine to get through the day. Pain is our body’s defense mechanism and warning system that something is being damaged or is already damaged. Think of it as your check engine light. Reducing or removing the pain without fixing the problem, which pain medicine is designed to do, will only cause further damage and pain. It’s like turning off your check engine light without fixing the problem. Short-term relief results in long term chronic problems. It would be like your check engine light coming on because your car oil level is low. You can choose to have the problem diagnosed and fixed for a few hundred dollars or you can ignore it and wait until your engine blows up and you are paying thousands of dollars for a new engine. You only have one shot with your body and listening to it will go a long way.

Tip #2: Vary your activities

Doing the same thing over and over again only results in overuse injuries. Vary your activities and exercises as much as possible to evenly distribute the load over multiple areas of your body. Repetitive activities results in overuse injuries because the same muscles are continuously working.

Tip #3: Vary your intensity

Exercise doesn’t mean going 100% all the time. It is important to have complete rest days and days where you only go 80, 50 or even 30 percent.

Tip #4: Foam rolling, stretching, and mobility work.

Foam rolling, gentle stretching, and general mobility are great for warming up and increasing blood flow to your muscles.

Tip #5: Treat yourself to a massage.

Massage is a great way to increase blood flow to muscles. It also helps with recovery and relaxation.

These 5 tips are like brushing your teeth for your muscles. However they are only useful if you don’t have pain. If you have pain in a tooth, brushing and flossing will not make it go away. Instead you visit your dentist so they can figure out why your tooth hurts. If you have muscle or joint pain, you shouldn’t foam roll and stretch. The first step is getting the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. If you are experiencing pain, call Muscle and Joint Chiropractic. We will take the time to diagnosis your problem and provide you with the appropriate treatment. Time is not on your side when it comes to pain. Continuing to ignore/cover up the pain can result in permanent damage like tearing and degeneration.

Concepts from integrativediagnosis.com, used with permission.

Quick Health Tips – Feb 2015

Nutrition

Many people are taught to leave out the egg yolks even though they are the best part of the egg.  The benefits of eating the entire egg have been known for a long time in nutrition circles but it has finally hit main stream. Read this recent article from fox news. The return of the egg?

Cooking

Check out paleonick.com as a great resource for cooking. For 2015 he has a weekly meal plan that includes how-to videos, recipes and even grocery shopping lists.

Exercise

Add walking lunges to your workout routine. They are a safe way to work your lower body without putting too much stress on your lower back and knees. Start with no weight and watch the video below to make sure your technique is perfect.

Lifestyle/Random

Lysa Myers, a cyber security industry veteran, recommends creating passwords that are full sentences. “The longer you make the password, the longer it’s going to take for somebody to crack it,” Myers says.

Assess your mobility

How far back can you extend your fingers? Hold your arm flat against the wall and pull your fingers back. Your fingers should extend back about 50-60 degrees with ease.

If this is limited, then you are at a higher risk of developing elbow or wrist pain/stiffness. Muscle adhesion will limit this motion and cause pain. Watch the video below to learn more about muscle adhesion.

Quick Health Tips – Jan 2015

Nutrition 

Make sure to include sources of vitamin D in your diet. My favorite source is Blue Ice fermented cod liver oil found at greenpasture.org.

Cooking

Make a soup with homemade bone broth. To learn about the health benefits and how to make bone broth click the following link. Health benefits of bone broth. 

Exercise 

Add interval training to your cardio workout. Pick your favorite form of cardio and warm up for 5-10 minutes. Perform 10 rounds of 30 seconds hard pace followed by 30 seconds of an easy pace. Finish up with a 5-10 minute cool down.

Lifestyle/Random

Extending the life of your shaving blades can save you money. After each shave rinse the blade, dry with a towel, and rinse with alcohol. This will prevent moisture from oxidizing and dulling the blade.

Assess your mobility

Can you touch your toes? Stand with your feet hip width apart and don’t bend your knees. See how far you can reach toward the floor. You should be able to touch the floor with ease and only feel a minor stretch in your hamstrings. If your motion is limited or you have pulling/tension in your lower back then you failed the test. This means you are at higher risk for lower back, hip, knee and/or ankle injury.  It is important to be evaluated to determine the cause of this limitation, stretching is not the answer.

 

Is Swimming Low-Impact?

If you have back pain or a history of back pain, which sport listed below is the least likely to cause more damage?:

  • Baseball
  • Kendo
  • Running
  • Soccer
  • Swimming

Swimming seems like the obvious answer, since that is usually the go-to sport for people with pain. Surprisingly, a recent research article didn’t find this to be the case (1).

Researchers used MRIs to image the lower backs of 306 well-trained university athletes and compared them to 71 non-athlete university students and found that swimmers and baseball players had the highest amount of low back degeneration (1).

With baseball players, it makes sense because of the forces that are involved with swinging a bat. But how does swimming cause so much degeneration? (The rest of this article is a hypothesis on why an increase in degeneration occurs in swimmers.)

Kicking during swimming is a very large part of propulsion. The main muscle that fires during kicking movements is the psoas major (hip flexor). Looking at the green highlighted portion of the picture below, you can see that it attaches to the side/front of the lumbar spine (lower back) and travels down to attach to the femur (upper leg bone).

Every time you kick your leg, the psoas contracts, pulling on your low back. This causes the muscles in the back of your lumbar spine to contract to counteract the pulling force from the psoas. The end result is stabilization of your low back. This happens everywhere throughout your body. When one muscle contracts, other muscles contract to stabilize the area and prevent motion. In this case, the repetitive contraction to stabilize your spine during kicking causes increased compression on your lower back discs. The end result is increased disk degeneration.

This doesn’t mean swimming is a bad thing, but it is something to take into consideration. If you have back pain or have a history of back pain, then you may want to reconsider the structure of your swimming workouts. Many workouts will include kickboard drills or kicking with fins (fins will increase the strength of the psoas contraction, leading to more disc compression). These drills will greatly increase stress on your low back. If you know you have degeneration in your low back and still want to swim, it may be a good idea to limit kicking or use a pull buoy to avoid any extra kicking stress. In addition, many people will turn to swimming when they have back pain because it is the only physical activity they can do with minimal pain. I would strongly advise against this because it may only prolong the length of time that you are in pain. It is important to note that if you are experiencing pain, then you should be properly evaluated to determine the cause.

1) Hangai M, Kaneoka K, Hinotsu S, et al. Lumbar intervertebral disk degeneration in

athletes. Am J Sports Med 2009; 37:149-155.

Muscle adhesion is the most common source of pain and stiffness and the most underdiagnosed. If you are experiencing pain or stiffness, please click the button below.

 

 

Stretching: The Solution to Muscle Pain… or Is It?

Do you have tight, stiff, or painful muscles? You obviously need to stretch more, right?

If something is tight, stiff or painful, we immediately assume it needs to be stretched. Stretching may provide temporary relief for some, but the majority of people do not get results. Unfortunately, stretching is not the answer to all of your problems. In this article, we will talk about two of the major contributors to your tight, stiff, and painful muscles. Read more

Top 5 Foam Rolling Mistakes

1. Only foam rolling AFTER exercise.

Foam rolling is a great way to warm up your body BEFORE exercise.  Foam rolling followed by a quick dynamic warm-up is a great way to prepare your body for movement. To learn how to foam roll and perform a dynamic warm-up click the following link: The 6 Characteristics of a Good Dynamic Warm-up by Eric Cressey. 

2. Rolling over the greater trochanter.

The greater trochanter is a bony prominence of the femur.  If you google it, you can see pictures of it.  If you run your hand down the side of your thigh, you will feel a bony bump at the top.  When you are rolling the side of your leg avoid rolling over that bump.  It can irritate the bursa that is over top of it.

3. Hyperextending low back.

The foam roller is a great way to mobilize your mid back (thoracic spine) into extension.  If you go to the 1:35 mark in the following video (Foam rolling Series) you can see how to perform this.  You will notice that he doesn’t go near the low back (lumbar spine) when performing this movement.  The low back and mid back work differently and hyperextending the low back can irritate it.

4. Using the foam roller on every muscle.

The foam roller works great for most muscles but it doesn’t work that great in the calf area. Try using a massage stick (The stick) instead.  Make sure the calf is relaxed in order to get the deep calf muscles as well.  Sit down lifting your knee straight toward the ceiling let your foot relax so it points toward the floor and relax as much as possible as you roll/massage your leg.

5. Using the foam roller to treat pain.

Foam rolling shouldn’t be used to treat pain. Foam rolling may reduce or eliminate your pain temporarily but ultimately it only delays you from getting the proper treatment.  Proper treatment involves removing adhesion, which the foam roller cannot do. To learn more about this topic click the following link: Can foam rolling remove adhesion?

If you are experiencing pain or have any questions regarding your pain, please click the button below.

Are you ready for the running season?

In the northeast many runners cross-train over the winter.  This is a good time to recover from injuries, strengthen weak areas, and get ready for the next season.  But how do you know if you are ready for the running season?  Two simple tests below will give you a quick insight into the health status of your muscular tissues.

Standing toe touch

Stand with feet shoulder width apart, keep your knees straight and reach toward the floor.  You should be able to touch the floor and only feel minor stretching equally in both hamstrings.  This should  be done WITHOUT warming-up.  A passing test is touching the tips of your fingers to the ground. A failed test occurs if any of the below findings occur.

  • Can’t touch the floor
  • Stretching in calves
  • Stretching in back
  • Focal spot of tension in hamstrings
  • Unequal stretching in hamstring
  • Pain

Forward lunge

Lunge forward with one leg and then push back with the same leg to the start position. Then repeat with other leg.  A passing test is a lunge that is balanced and effortless.  The left and right leg should feel stable and pain free. A failed test occurs if any of the below findings occur.

  • Body leaning forward
  • Unstable
  • Painful
  • Front knee dives in
  • Fatigue quickly (should be able to do 10 reps on each leg without much effort)

If you fail either of these tests, then you are at a higher risk of injury while running.  Stretching, foam rolling, and strengthening will not make a sustained improvement on these tests.  The first step is to see if adhesion is causing the failed test.  Adhesions can cause all of the failed findings above.  To learn more about adhesions click the link below:

Adhesion

If you suffer with the same injuries every season and/or you failed a test, then click the button below to schedule an initial exam.  Let us get to the root of your problem.