Shoveling Tips to Save your Spine

We are currently in the dead of winter and snow is inevitable.  Shoveling can often lead injuries if it’s not done with proper ergonomics. Here are a few simple tips to help you avoid those injuries.

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  • Before even starting the shoveling process, make sure you stretch some. Warming up the muscles in your arms and legs will save them from injury lifting and moving the heavy weight.
  • If you’re able to, just push the snow. This will reduce the strain on your body. If you have to lift it, make sure to use your legs and not your back.
  • When lifting, also keep your back straight. Never bend over to lift because this will strain your back. Move down into a squatting position and then lift with your legs.
  • Make sure to never twist when throwing snow. The motion of bending and twisting puts your spine in the most vulnerable position; possibly setting you up for disc injury.
  • Stay hydrated while you’re working outside and take regular breaks.
  • If there’s someone available, have them help. The job will get done twice as fast and there will be half the amount of stress put on your body.

Follow these tips and your spine will thank you later!

Dr. Meghan

 

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How to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Without Surgery

Wrist pain is most often caused by repetitive motions that continuously stress the wrist joint. One of the most common forms of wrist pain comes as carpal tunnel. Carpal tunnel is characterized by numbness and tingling in the hand, wrist pain, weakened grip, and difficulty moving the fingers and hand. Typically what occurs with carpal tunnel is the soft tissues surround the wrist and most importantly the nerves, gets very tight from the overuse. The tightening of the soft tissues will in turn put pressure on the nerves and begin to cause those symptoms.  Traditionally, how carpal tunnel is addressed is with surgery. The surgeon will go in and cut the soft tissues to release the pressure on the nerves. Unfortunately, the pain and symptoms will often return after the surgery. This is due to the fact that the inflammation is still present and the nerves are still irritated. So, what can you do for carpal tunnel to avoid surgery? There are actually plenty of fantastic ways to do this!

One avenue of relief is of course chiropractic adjustments! When the bones in the wrist and had are misaligned, this will stretch those soft tissues and pull them tight. By adjusting the bones in the hand and wrist, it can return to functioning properly. Over time, the inflammation with be reduced.

A great compliment to chiropractic adjustments is acupuncture. While acupuncture cannot address structural problems as chiropractic can, it does help to relieve the symptoms. Acupuncture increases blood flow to promote healing and triggers the release of endorphins. The endorphins shut down the pain pathways to our brain and will help reduce inflammation.

If you are someone that spends a lot of time typing and on a computer, regular stretching can help immensely. It is so important to give yourself a break from continuous repetitive tasks. Taking a few minutes once an hour is all you really need. These two stretches are fantastic for the wrist!

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One method we also use quite often in our office is kinesiotape. This tape will help to support the joint. It will stabilize it and help to reduce inflammation. Kinesiotape is designed to draw inflammation away and allow increased blood flow to flush it out. Here is a simple example of how we tape a wrist.

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Of course, always make sure you have proper wrist support when typing and using your computer. A simple wrist support in front of your keyboard and a mouse pad with a support will help hold your wrist in a more neutral position.

Dr. Meghan

Natural Ways to Relieve Headaches

headache-1When suffering from a headache, it can bring down your motivation, hinder your daily activities, and even affect your family. There are many causes of headaches and they can be triggered by things from stress to certain foods. There are numerous natural treatments to help relieve headache pain if you’re wanting to avoid pain meds like Tylenol or Advil.

A great way to relieve a headache is to get adjusted! When your neck is subluxated or not moving as it should, it can affect the nerves and blood flow to your head. By adjusting the segments that aren’t moving properly and removing that interference, the proper nervous flow and blood flow can be restored. This will reduce inflammation and pressure that can cause headaches.

Another fantastic way to treat headaches is magnesium.  You can supplement magnesium in may different ways but our favorite here in the office is Natural Calm. It’s a tasty powder you mix with water to help relieve headaches, muscle soreness, and can help you sleep! Many people are deficient in magnesium! It’s a vital mineral that our nervous system needs to function properly and without it, our bodies can start to show symptoms.

Essential oils are great to help with headache symptoms as well. My favorite oil for headaches is peppermint. This essential oil has incredible calming effects. You can rub some peppermint oil on your temples or at the base of your skull. Diffusing it into the air and simply breathing it in will do wonders as well. The peppermint opens up blood vessels to restore proper blood flow to your head and brain.

If you are a sufferer from tension and stress headaches, massage therapy is fabulous. Often stress causes our muscle to tighten up and place a lot of tension on our neck and head. Massage therapy can address those tight muscles and by simply getting them to relax, headache pain can vanish easily.

One of my favorites to relieve headaches is acupuncture. Acupuncture comes from the ancient art of Traditional Chinese Medicine. If focuses on the flow of energy in your body. If this is blocked up it can cause pain. Acupuncture can help release endorphins (our bodies’ natural pain killers), increase blood flow, and regulate hormone imbalances.

Lastly, and very importantly; water can help with headaches! One of the most common causes of headaches is dehydration. Without the proper amount of water, our bodies become inflamed.  Everyone should drink at least half of their body weight in ounces of water a day! Simply doing this could help immensely with chronic headaches.

Dr. Meghan

Flossing – It’s Not Just for your Teeth

A common symptom we see here in the office is pain or numbness/tingling that goes into the legs or arms. One of the ways we can help to address it is by “nerve flossing“. This may sound crazy but it can give you immense relief from symptoms like these.

Numbness, tingling, and pain down the arm or leg is typically caused by irritation somewhere along the nerve. When that irritation is left there over time, the signal from the brain cannot properly reach the arm and hand.

Quite often, the irritation on this nerve can be from the soft tissues surrounding it. This can be muscle, fat, or fascia. Fascia is the fibrous layer of tissue that sits on top of muscles to hold different groups of them together.  When the soft tissues get tight or irritated, they will in turn start to irritate the nerves running through or around them.

We suggest some simple stretches that can help to floss the nerve through the tissues and break up the adhesions. Check out the videos below for neck and low back nerve flossing!

 

These stretches are an amazing compliment to chiropractic care and adjustments. We are able to remove the interference caused by subluxations and the stretches to a fantastic job of removing soft tissue interference.

Dr. Meghan

Re-train your Brain with Meditation

Recent studies have actually shown that you are able to re-train and re-wire your brain. This phenomenon is known as neuroplasticity. Pathways and patterns within your brain will actually change.  What will actually make these alterations you ask? Our own thoughts and perceptions actually have the power to do this. Simply put, positive thinking and optimism can actually mold your brain. Meditation has been proven to have these effects.

Meditation has also been shown to lower cortisol levels and stress. The Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins released a report stating that meditation can help with:

  • reducing pain
  • improve sleep quality
  • reduce headaches
  • lower risk of obesity
  • lower inlammation
  • treating mental disorders like depression
  • boost productivity
  • improving memory

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Often, those suffering from depression will get fixated on negative thoughts. One negative event can spur a vicious cycle of negativity. Meditation aids in focusing on the facts of a situation and will separate old beliefs from those facts. This will help to decrease overall psychological stress.

Chronic pain is often tied to emotional stresses. While pain itself is not fun to deal with, added negative emotions will make the pain so much worse.  Through meditation, you can alter these thoughts and change the patterns related to the pain.

Stress has been shown to produce hormones and immune factors that promote the retention of fat as well as emotional eating. Guided meditation and mindfulness can combat these cravings and lower the hormone levels. 86% of reviewed studies showed improvements in eating behaviors after meditation.

Those suffering from insomnia can also greatly benefit from meditation. It is a great way to turn your brain off at night right before bed. Many cannot fall asleep due to replaying the days events or worrying about their day tomorrow. Through meditation, you can turn down these thoughts and relax.

If you’re new to meditation, finding some guided meditation will probably be easiest. I use an app called Buddhify. A youtube channel called Boho Beautiful is also a great guided meditation. You only need to do it for about 5 minutes a day to start and it’s super simple. If you struggle from any of the conditions above or are just curious, give it a try!

Dr. Meghan

How Subluxations Affect Your Body

Our bodies respond to three types of stress – physical, chemical, and emotional. Physical stresses can include car accidents, falls, or simply stepping off a curb wrong. Chemical stresses may be eating pro-inflammatory foods, long rounds of antibiotics, or being exposed to allergens. Emotional stresses can come from many different sources. These can be anything from stress at work to a family member passing away.

When these constant stressors are placed on our lives, our bodies respond to them. In our spine, these show up as subluxations. Subluxation is just a big word for a misalignment or segment in your spine that is not moving as it should.  When left there, over time the subluxation will start to cause inflammation. Inflammation in turn is going to start to affect the nerves in that area and create some interference with the signal it’s trying to put out. The longer these subluxations remain under the surface, the more damage they cause. Over time they manifest and make themselves known through various symptoms. These can be things like low back pain, headaches, sinus congestion, digestive issues, and hormone imbalances.

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If left long enough, these subluxations can also lead to degeneration and decay within the spine. In a way, subluxations are very similar to cavities you get in your teeth. They eat away at surrounding tissues. This means that the normal curves are lost from the spine, the disc thins, and the vertebrae begin to collapse.

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The good news is, chiropractic adjustments help to remove these subluxations and aid your body in returning to its proper function. Chiropractic adjustments are much like regular teeth cleanings at the dentist. We locate the subluxations (aka cavities) and remove them. Now your brain can properly talk with all of your organs and tissues again and the ability for it to heal itself is restored.

Dr. Meghan

Omega 3 Fatty Acids – What are They and Why Do I Need Them?

Foods-rich-in-omega-3-fatty-acidsOmega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that our body needs to function.  Unfortunately, our bodies cannot make them ourselves so we have to get them from outside sources.  The benefits of omegas are numerous but they are most known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They also play a very crucial role in nervous system development and brain function. Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to improve heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.

While these fatty acids are so vital for our health, many Americans are deficient in them.  Symptoms of omega 3 fatty acid deficiency include poor memory, fatigue, dry skin, heart problems, and joint pain. The typical American diet is often high in omega 6 fatty acids and low in omega 3’s. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in things like grains, eggs, and grain-fed livestock. These fatty acids will actually promote inflammation within the body. Ideally, you want to have a 2:1 ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids. Most Americans linger around a 20:1 ratio.

The great news is, there are tons of healthy and nutritious sources of omega 3’s. The following are just a few:

  • Salmon
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Tuna
  • Grass-fed dairy

Using supplementation to improve your omega 3 levels is always great as well! This way you know your body is absorbing the proper amounts it needs.

Dr. Meghan