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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.

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.

Knee Surgery May Not be the Answer

A recent article in the NY times (Common Knee Surgery Does Very Little for Some, Study Suggests) suggests that many people may be undergoing unnecessary knee surgery.

The studies they referenced in the article showed that people undergoing knee surgery for degeneration did no better than people that underwent sham surgery, physical therapy, or who took medication.  This research suggests that jumping into surgery may not be the answer and it is costing our healthcare system billions of dollars.

Meniscus (shock absorbing cartilage in the knee) tears are very common.  They can occur from trauma or degeneration.   The degenerative type occur without trauma and accumulate from the stress and strain of life.  MRI’s allow us to visualize degenerative changes in the mensicus which have many doctors rushing to surgery.  The research is showing that we shouldn’t be so quick to rush into surgery in these cases.

If you have knee pain or have an MRI showing degenerative changes in the mensicus or other tissue, then conservative care should be your first priority.  Adhesions can accumulate in the tissue surrounding the knee.  This can occur without any previous history of trauma.  Adhesions will act like glue and not allow the knee to move properly.  To see if you have limitations in your knee.  Perform the test Read more

Triathlon Training and Recovery

One of the most crucial pieces left out of a beginner’s triathlon training program is recovery. If you don’t allow your body to recover, then overtraining can occur.  Training for a triathlon can put a lot of stress on your body because you have to train for 3 sports at once.  Learning to balance swimming, biking, and running in the right ratios takes time.  Common warning signs of overtraining include:

  • Sudden drop in performance
  • Changes in your sleep pattern
  • Loss of enthusiasm for training
  • Change in appetite
  • Increased incidence of illness
  • Feeling tired even after easy workouts
  • Moody and unpleasant to be around

Beginner athletes always assume more is better.  This may work for a year or so but eventually you will stop seeing improvements and realize that you have to train smarter, not harder.  The best way to do that is to get a triathlon coach.  Find someone in your area that has a good reputation and listen to everything they say.  If hiring a trainer is not in your budget, then read the Triathlete’s Training Bible.  This book will give you the basics to design your own training program. Everyone responds differently to training and listening to your body is very important.  Your training program will change over the years as you learn what works and what doesn’t work. Most programs will have at least one complete rest day a week and then every 4th week will be an easy week.  It is also important to take a break from training completely at the end of the triathlon season. Learning to train smarter will allow you to perform pain free for many years.

 

No pain, no gain…..right?

Have you ever heard the saying, no pain, no gain?  This saying can be a good thing or a really bad thing.  For example, if a triathlete starts swimming after a long break, it is probably going to be a painful experience.  It’s hard to get oxygen, your arms are sore, and you are trying your hardest not to let your legs become a 60 pound anchor.  At first you have to push through the pain, and eventually it becomes easier. Pain in this case is a part of becoming better, stronger, and faster.  If that same triathlete has shoulder pain on his right side during the recovery portion of his stroke, then that’s a different story.  This is bad pain and indicates that the joint is not working correctly.  This pain would most likely be caused from adhesion in the rotator cuff muscles.  This will cause the joint to move incorrectly and create pain in the shoulder and down the arm.  Bad pain is your body’s way of saying STOP.  If you try to work though the pain and take anti-inflammatory medicine, it will only get worse.  The medicine will allow you to continue to move the joint wrong until something tears.  I like the saying, “No GOOD pain, no gain”.   If you are unsure if your pain is good or bad, please schedule an exam to find out.

Spinal decompression with no machine?

The goal of spinal decompression is to take the load off of the discs in your low back or neck.  This can help take away neck pain, low back pain, and numbness/tingling in your hands and feet.  At Muscle and Joint Chiropractic, we treat the adhesions to naturally decompress the spine.  Any muscle that crosses a joint will stabilize and compress it.  In the neck and low back there are many muscles that cross these joints.  If you have adhesion in these muscles, they will increased load and pressure on your discs because the joints are not moving correctly.  Breaking down adhesion with ART, MAR, and IAR, will naturally decompress the spine.

Can you really “work through” the pain?

The short answer is maybe, but eventually it will catch up with you.  I have many patients that come in and say they can usually work through the pain but this time it will not go away.  This response indicates to me that they never actually worked through the pain.  Their body compensated by loading up another area.  Eventually there will be no other areas to compensate to and pain will result.  Most of my patients are between the ages of 30-55.  This is the common age range when the body runs out of areas to compensate to.  One of the most common under diagnosed sources of pain is muscle adhesion.  If you have a nagging injury that will not go away or you have been “working through” the pain, please call our office to schedule an exam.  This way you will know if adhesion is at the root of your pain.

Can foam rolling remove adhesion?

Foam rolling is a great way to warm up before exercise, but it will never remove adhesion.

I am a big fan of foam rolling as a warm up.  It will warm up the tissue and prepare it for exercise.  However, I would never use a foam roll as a method of relieving pain.  If you are experiencing pain, you should be evaluated by a professional.  Most likely you have adhesion build up in your muscles.  Adhesions can alter the way the joint moves which leads to pain.  You can think of it as pouring glue into a muscle.  The muscle won’t stretch or contract like it should.  The only way to get rid of adhesion is through treatment from a certified provider specializing in  MAR, and IAR, and ART.

If you are experiencing pain or stiffness, click the button below so we can determine the cause.