Monday, January 21, 2013

Sitting Is The New Smoking

Sitting is the "new smoking." When I recently heard this I had to stop & think about it a moment. It would seem obvious that if you're a sedentary person that sitting alone would have negative effects on your health, but there are all sorts of studies and statistics that state things like:
  •  For every hour you sit in front of the TV you raise the risk of death by 11%. 
  •  Sitting for more that six  hours per day puts you on an early death list EVEN IF YOU EXERCISE. 
  • People who sit are more prone to high blood pressure, depression, and cancer.
  • Sitting for longer periods of time predisposes you to developing diabetes and if you are already diabetic, then stick a fork in yourself because your done. 
What seems so non-threatening or non-toxic to our body is basically just the opposite.  We are heading for a society just like in the movie "Wall-E" where all the humans sit around reclining in chairs, eat fast food and drink sodas, LOL.

The reality is that many people have jobs that require sitting, and because of that most will just disregard the studies because there is "nothing they can do about it". But there are choices you can make that can minimize these detrimental effects.  More on that in a moment...

First, from a musculoskeletal point of view, let me try and describe to you why sitting could be a major contributor of your aches and pains most commonly your neck, shoulders, and lower back.  First of all, anything done repetitively and for an extended period of time is going to cause some over-use issues leading to breakdown and injury. Sitting is NOT exempt from the overuse category even though you may not  feel as though you're doing anything harmful.  The reality is that your body is always fighting gravity and the way your structure is aligned is going to forecast how long it will be able to handle those gravitational forces before it starts to breaking down.

Our office focuses on the Structural Correction of the spine.  If the body has structural problems, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and discs are over stressed from the forces of gravity. Better ergonomics are not always enough. I look at ergonomics as a tool to help an already normal structure become more productive and withstand fatigue as a protective measure NOT a corrective measure.  For example, a person with a herniated disc in their lower back might feel better with a seat cushion, but the herniation is still there and needs to be corrected.  Applying better ergonomics to a broken structure is like putting tape on a baseball bat.....its temporary.  Once a patient's structural problems are identified, a thorough game plan to correct and protect the structure is recommended for a long term solution.

The other dangerous part to sitting is the LACK of MOVEMENT.  No matter how good your structure and ergonomics, you are still not moving!  Our bodies are meant to move; joints need to go through full ranges of motion to stay healthy.  Soft tissue (muscle & ligaments) will adapt to any position after about 20 minutes and become abnormally shortened or lengthened.  On top of that muscles and fascia are designed to slide on top of one another.  Lack of movement causes a gluing of these structures to one another that prevents normal function.  When a cat wakes up from a nap, the first thing it does is stretch to become more mobile.  This is what most people don't do after being immobile for long periods.  This lack of mobility causes the body to compensate (Structural Shifts) and move abnormally leading to secondary symptoms like pain.

So what can you do?  First, get a thorough structural assessment to identify any abnormal shifts in your spine.  Second, get your work station assessed to see if it can be ergonomically improved.  Third, move, move & move.  See if you can do some work while standing and trade off.  There are even treadmill desks that are becoming more popular.  Fourth, perform some mobility exercises (especially for the lower body) to address the soft tissue affect of sitting.  Fifth, if you have any questions, give us a call.   A consultation is always no charge.  It's a conversation, not a commitment.

Thanks for Reading!

Dr. Deane

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Square Wheels Versus Round Wheels

What Shape Wheels Do You Want?

Square Wheels

Round Wheels


The above question would seem obvious to most of us because we realize that round wheels are more efficient and faster than square ones.  There is a saying that STRUCTURE DICTATES FUNCTION and this is very obvious for the bike wheel.

The human body has many examples of this as well.  From the design of our cells to the shape of our joints; structure dictates function.  When it comes to the spine, it has an optimum shape that allows it to be strong yet flexible.  

The vertebra (individual bones) of the spine protect the central nervous system, and because the spinal column is moveable, it is susceptible to the various stresses and forces of life. This can cause it to lose its proper structural position. We realize that not many people have absolute 100% perfect alignment.  However, no different than normal blood pressure, normal body temperature, and normal weight, there is a range of what is acceptable and what's unacceptable. If your structure shifts outside of what is considered normal, also known as "Vertebral Subluxation," then your body's function decreases leading to a secondary condition or symptom.  These abnormal shifts or deviations in the spine can be present without you even being aware that they exist. Just like a cavity begins in a tooth, you don't initially feel the decay until it is bad enough to cause pain.

Throughout our lives, we engage in many activities that challenge the integrity of our spines; long periods of sitting, computer work, texting, and basically being bent forward are probably some of the most common reasons people develop spinal shifts that lead to a secondary condition (symptom).  This is when they end up in my office. Most of these patients present with Anterior Head Syndrome. This is a condition where the head has a shifted forward beyond its center of balance. A shift in this structure creates a continuous strain on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and discs primarily in the upper back , but also down into the mid and lower back region as well. This stress will result in symptoms such as headaches, neck and or back pain, numbness or tingling, muscle spasms, shoulder pain, TMJ pain, and pinched nerves just to name a few.  

You see any force that the human body cannot adapt to causes a shift in the structure of the spine.  The human head weighs 10-12 lbs on average.  For every inch the head shifts forward from its normal position, it weighs an additional 10lbs. That means it actually gains weight! It's not uncommon for me  to see someone with their head two inches in front of their shoulders.  At this point their heads weighs ~30 lbs!! Do you think this could cause some muscle spasms, head aches, pinched nerves, etc...?  (answer... YES!) 

So having an abnormal structural condition, like Anterior Head Syndrome, will not only lead to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments being chronically overworked, but you will also have decreased strength and efficiency and a higher chance of injury.  Just like the square bike tires YOU become very inefficient and break down.

How Do You Fix This?

For the sake of this blog, I have simplified the an example of a structural shift within your cervical (neck) region.  In reality, there are numerous configurations that the spine can abnormally shift into.  In the cervical spine there are at least 16 major abnormal possibilities from the side view alone!  This is why general solutions do not work for everyone.  Not everyone can just exercise their head back to normal or just practice "standing up straighter" to fix their structural problem.  Traditionally chiropractors concentrate on pain reduction and improved ranges of motion.  This is a great service for those who want just that.  I look at the reason why the pain and immobility started in the first place.  If its due to abnormal structure, then I know there is going to be abnormal function and therefore the structure needs to be addressed. Without this type of care, you may get rid of your symptoms but your structure will remain a square wheel.

If you have chronic issues with pain, mobility, or some other function of your body, give us a call for a consultation.  It might be a structural issue that was never addressed.

Thanks for reading, Have a great day!

Dr. Deane

Monday, January 7, 2013

Clean house & lose weight at the same time!

I know what you're thinking when you read the title of this post..."Seriously Dr. Terri. How can I lose weight by cleaning my house?" Metaphorically speaking, the house I am referring to is your body. It is the house that actually counts, because it is where you have to live each & every day of your life until you die. Cleaning your house has profound effects on your health; one of which is weight loss.

Let's talk about cleaning house first. Our bodies naturally go through regular cycles of cleansing/detoxifying without our even being aware that it's happening. The primary systems involved include our liver, skin, lymphatics, digestive, urinary & respiratory systems. These all work together to neutralize & eliminate waste & potentially harmful substances that have entered the body. Sadly, each & every one of us now carries a toxic load/burden due to the overwhelming number of chemical substances in the environment, in our food, in our homes, in our water; in our lives. The body stores what it cannot get rid of & hence we all become a bowl of dirty toxic soup.
So, how do I know if I should detox? Each & every one of us should detox at least once a year, but if you look at the list of symptoms below & you answer yes to any of them you should start 2013 off right by cleaning house.
  • fatigue
  • acne
  • allergies
  • drowsiness after eating
  • depressed appetite
  • digestive issues (GERD, gas, ulcers, diverticulitis, etc.)
  • loss of energy
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty staying asleep
  • emotional stress
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • muscle cramps
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • food cravings
  • PMS
  • skin problems
  • mental fog
  • poor tolerance to fatty foods
  • pain under the right shoulder blade
  • excess weight

I have worked with a number of patients on detoxing their bodies & each & every one of them has experienced a life transformation. Whether it was a 25lb weight loss,  the complete disappearance of diverticulitis or the overall improvement in mental clarity & energy, cleaning your house has amazing benefits.

Let me walk you through the steps of a healthier & more amazing you in 2013.

~Dr. Terri