3 Simple Tips to Prevent Back Injuries

When it comes to avoiding back injuries, your fate is largely in your own hands. It’s true that an unexpected fall or auto accident may cause an injury that’s beyond your control, but a large percentage of back injuries are caused by your own actions, which means you can take measures to prevent them or stop them from getting worse. While its important to maintain spinal alignment with regular adjustments, what you do outside of the office is equally important! Here are a few tips for avoiding back injuries on your own.

LIFTING TECHNIQUE

Whether you are lifting weighs or boxes, books, babies, or just about anything else, they all have an impact on the health of your spine. When you lift correctly your spine is in proper alignment and there is no added stress placed on your back. The proper way to lift means you should bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible when you pick anything up off the floor. This going for bending down to put on socks or shoes as well.

If you have a lot of lifting to do try to place items on a table or chair so there isn’t as much bending needed. Your back is not designed to work like a crane so anytime you use it that way you are putting tons of stress on your back that doesn’t need to be there. Try using a balanced stance, with your legs a little wider apart, lift with your legs and move your feet if you need to change direction while holding the object.

POSTURE MANAGEMENT

Performing activities with your spinal alignment in mind is a great way to help you avoid back injuries in the first place. That means stretching before any type of physical activity, taking it slow if you have a lot of repetitive lifting to do, and even taking breaks to rest and stretch during the activity or prolonged periods of time in one position such as a desk job. Posture breaks are a great way to stay mindful of your posture throughout the day. Try setting an alarm on your watch or phone to go off once an hour during your workday to remind you to unwind your shoulders, get up and do a few stretches for 1 minute an hour. At the end of an 8 hour workday, you’ve taken 8 minutes out of your busy day to prevent a back injury.

Sleeping on a supportive firm mattress is another way to keep your spine in line between adjustments. Side sleeping with a supportive pillow is what our doctors recommend here at YFC. Getting yourself in good physical shape also protects your back and helps to avoid injuries. This includes strengthening core muscles as well as back muscles which will make lifting and general movement less stressful on your back.

DON’T LET INJURIES LINGER

If you end up with a back injury despite your efforts to avoid it, you should seek treatment with a chiropractor as soon as you can. Spinal misalignment, bulging discs, herniated discs, and other injuries often only get worse if you let them linger without treatment. Prompt treatment will restore blood flow to the area, relieve any compressed nerves and get you back to normal in the shortest time possible. At Yost Family Chiropractic our team is here to help answer your questions.  Please feel free to contact us today at 515-278-9678.

Decrease stress by using your breath

Feeling Stressed? It’s normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes, but too much stress can throw a wrench in your overall health and wellness. Being in fight or flight mode more than 20% of the time can lead to mental health problems, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and even poor gut health…. which in turn, heightens levels of stress! Staying hydrated, eating healthy meals and routine chiropractic care all help in the long term, but what can you do right now to manage your stress and anxiety?

Most people are breathing the wrong way and don’t even realize it. As a chiropractor, while observing the general population, what we notice is that most people are using their chest and shoulders to breath instead of the diaphragm. Go ahead…TRY IT! Take a BIG deep breath in and blow it all the way out; did your shoulders move? If you’ve ever watched a baby breathe you will notice they don’t move their shoulders at all, but instead breath with their BELLIES. The proper way to breathe without stressing your neck and shoulder muscles is called diaphragmatic breathing.

How-To: Diaphragmatic Breathe

This relaxation style deep breathing technique helps slow the heartbeat, stabilize blood pressure and get more oxygen circulating throughout the body. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Sit or lay comfortably making sure your spine is straight and most importantly that your head and neck are relaxed.
  2. Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach just above your belly button.
  3. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 4 seconds, so that your stomach pushes against your hand. Now the hard part-try to keep the hand on your chest as still as possible.
  4. Breathe out slowly through your mouth for 5 seconds by tightening your stomach muscles. Again, trying to keep the hand on your stomach still.
  5. Repeat for several minutes.
Relaxation Breathing Technique

This type of breathing should be practiced daily starting with just 2 minute per day and working up to 30 minute sessions- eventually your brain convert your “normal” breathing pattern to diaphragmatic breathing resulting in less stress and a feeling of overall relaxation. This technique is great for both adults and kids that struggle with stress or anxiety. If you have any questions or concerns about this, feel free to talk to the doctors next time you’re in the office or schedule a free consultation today at 515-278-9678

To ice, or not to ice? That is the question.

There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the HEAT or ICE debate. I am going to help explain the proper usage of ice vs heat today. I want to start out by saying this recommendation is a rule of thumb, as there are always exceptions to every rule.

ICE- You typically want to reach into the freezer and grab an ice pack anytime you are dealing with a new injury (less than 72 hours). Cold restricts blood flow and reduces inflammation and swelling. Whenever there’s bleeding in underlying tissue—think sprains, strains or bruising—ice treatment is the way to go. You also want to reach for ice when there is inflammation present.

Inflammation is characterized by five cardinal signs:

  • Redness
  • Heat or warmth
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Loss of function

Aches and pains can feel a lot better after using ice for 10-15 minutes, with an hour break in between icing sessions. If you have bad circulation, then cold therapy probably isn’t for you. If you apply ice for too long or directly touching the skin- tissue or nerve damage becomes a possibility. 

Heat- heat is the best method for relaxing tight and sore muscles. Whereas ice restricts blood vessels, heat opens them, increasing blood flow to an affected area. This is perfect for most aches and pains, and it’s also great for repairing damaged tissue since increased blood flow stimulates healing. Stiffness and tension can usually be relieved with about 15-20 minutes of heat therapy. Do not feel the burn…when using heat therapy, you want to keep a nice, even warmth. Remember, if you have ANY swelling or bruising, heat isn’t the right call.

But can you use both? Absolutely- However, as I mentioned above, it is important to use ice during the first 48-72 hours immediately following an injury- after that you may alternate between ice and heat every few hours. The rule of thumb is 15 minutes on, 1 hour off when cycling between ice and heat.

Ice and Heat can be used together to manage headaches at home

Headaches- Some conditions such as headaches respond very well to both heat and ice on different areas of the head and neck. Heat and cold are no risk therapies that anyone can use for headache relief. Let’s talk about using heat first. Heating tight muscles can help relieve a tension type headache, if the small muscles in the back of the head get too tight, (which is a very common cause of headaches). You can start by applying a little heat to the base of the head and neck for 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, for those pulsing, nasty headaches, ice the temples to fight inflammation and relieve throbbing.

Long Term Solution- When it comes to injuries caused by physical activity-cold and heat are very beneficial, but they’re not long-term solutions. A healthy musculoskeletal system is critical to overall health and healing, affecting how the entire body functions. Regular adjustments of the spine help return the body to a normal state by reducing tension as well as pain by activating the body’s natural healing process. Choosing chiropractic as the first line of defense once injured decreases the likelihood surgery and further injury.

Call Yost Family Chiropractic today at 515-278-9678 to book a consultation to talk to our doctors or to schedule your new patient exam.

Tired of dealing with headaches and neck pain?

When you’re in pain, it can take away from every single part of your life.

We know how hard it can be, and at Yost Family Chiropractic we’re here to help you. Let’s run through it together starting with why you’re in pain, what’s causing it, and what you can do.

What is causing my neck pain?

Have you been in a recent car accident? Do you work a desk job or study too much? Maybe you text a lot and you’re constantly looking down at your phone. Depending on the cause, neck pain can come in a variety of different forms and severities, from nerve impingement to whiplash or chronic postural problems leading to structural changes. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you know this kind of pain already, and it’s not just a pain in the neck. It affects the shoulders and can even cause headaches. The pain may be relative to one spot, or it can radiate to different parts of your upper body, including the arms. You may also experience occasional numbness, muscle weakness and decreased ROM.

Here are some common causes of neck pain and headaches

  • Poor Posture/Daily Habits
  • Injuries and Whiplash
  • Motor Vehicle or Work Place Accidents
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Degenerative Disc/Joint Disease

What can you do at home to help?

Here’s how you can start feeling better right now.

Stretches– Tuck your chin back over the notch above your sternum, so that your ear is line with the tip of your shoulder. You want to do as many of these as possible- my recommendation is aiming to do 10 every hour. Setting an alarm on your phone or watch to take posture breaks is very helpful. A great time to incorporate these are your daily routine- whenever you are in a car or even in the shower.

Perform these 10 times every hour and hold for 5 seconds.

Ice– For tension and muscle soreness, ice therapy is a great form of pain relief, and here’s why. Cold restricts blood flow and reduces inflammation as well as swelling. But keep in mind, too much cold can hurt you. Don’t put bags of ice or packs directly on the skin as that could risk tissue. Instead, cover it in a towel and set it on the area. Ice the neck area no more than 10-15 minutes at a time and take hour breaks in between ICE sessions.

Neck Orthotic– The use of a neck orthotic is used to correct poor posture and restore the curve of the cervical spine. We often refer to this as “braces for the spine”. The top of the orthotic is used as a fulcrum- by placing the tip of the triangle at the base of the neck, or as low as you can go. You then lean your head and neck over the top, as shown below. Consistency is key! It is important to recognizance that correcting the cervical curve is a process not an event.

Start with 30 seconds then add 15-30 seconds per day until you are doing 10-15 minutes every day.

Essential Oils– Many people find success using essential oils topically when they’ve got sore or strained muscles. There any MANY kinds of oils to choose from, it’s worth looking into for natural pain relief that works. Another helpful topical is BIO-FREEZE, which uses the active ingredient menthol to cool sore muscles on contact.

Proper Neck Pillow– The kind of pillow you use could either facilitate healing, or straining your neck. Look for one that’s made of firmer foam and materials that press back, effectively supporting the head. It’s also crucial that your pillow contours to your head, neck and shoulders, offering built-in cervical support.

It’s time to invest in a quality pillow.

When that is not enough- Fixing the ROOT problem

The tips listed above will help you manage your symptoms, and they’re good for temporary pain relief, but they won’t truly fix anything. In order to eliminate your symptoms for good, treatment needs to address the root cause of the problem. Constant stress can affect the cervical spine (neck) which causes misalignments known as subluxations. These misalignments can wreak havoc on your entire body, because when the vertebrae are not aligned, it can dampen your brain to body communication system. When a nerve had pressure on it for many years it becomes damaged and starts to cause problems and pain. They key to reducing joint pain long term, is to adjust the cervical spine where vertebrae may be out of alignment. A chiropractor uses the chiropractic adjustment to manipulate the spine back into optimal alignment, which takes the pressure off the nerves which then allows the nervous system to function at its best ability.

Chiropractic neck adjustments are a safe and effective way to treat neck pain

If you are interested in a chiropractic evaluation, call us at 515-278-9678 to schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractors.

5 FAQ’s about chiropractic

Why Should I Go to a Chiropractor?

It’s a common misconception that chiropractic only helps people with neck or back pain. Chiropractic is helpful for a wide variety of health problems. It helps improve nerve system function as a whole, which in turn, encourages the body to heal at it’s full potential.  Chiropractic is a conservative treatment that is effective and not only treating, but also preventing health issues.

Is Chiropractic Safe?

ABSOLUTELY! Chiropractic has an excellent safety record. It’s a conservative, all-natural approach to healthcare that avoids invasive procedures or addictive drugs.  Conservative care means to take a cautious, safe and moderate approach to treating a health issue. In fact, malpractice rates between chiropractors and other healthcare professionals are very different, our malpractice premiums are only a small fraction of the cost compared to those for medical doctors because what we do is so low risk. We treat ALL walks of life starting from pediatric to geriatric ages.  Our goal is to get you better and KEEP you healthy by preventing future health problems as a whole. After all, we are treating your whole nervous system to keep it running smoothly, not just your back.

What Causes that Popping Sound During an Adjustment?

We know that sometimes it can make people nervous at times however, the “popping, clicking or cracking” sound you hear during a chiropractic adjustment is nothing to be worried about. This sound is painless and completely harmless. It’s caused by natural gases in your body rushing in to fill the partial vacuum that’s created when your joints shift. It’s not an indicator of any problems. In fact, not all adjustments make a sound. A bone can shift back into position without creating any sound at all, with the same effects.

Can I Adjust Myself?

Please don’t! Your chiropractor has years of training, education and experience under their belt and is a pro at adjusting your spine safely, correctly and accurately. A chiropractic adjustment versus bending and twisting yourself certain ways to “crack your back” are very different things. Self manipulation can be counterproductive and sometimes dangerous, making an already unstable spine even worse. Your chiropractor does a thorough exam as well as x-rays to adjust you in a very specific way. Though it may not always feel different to you, we are using different parts of our hands to contact and isolate specific bones in your spine to make the proper corrections.

Are All Patients Adjusted the Same Way?

No. Every single person is different and has their own unique needs. At Yost Family Chiropractic our doctors evaluate and treat each person’s spine and symptoms in the way that suits that person best. Some people like the get hands on adjustments, while others prefer adjustments with a tool such as an activator or athrostim device. We develop an individual treatment plan that best addresses that specific patient’s concern.

Helpful Tips For Sleeping Posture

Are you tired of waking up in the morning with tight lower back muscles or a headache? Today I want to discuss proper sleeping posture. When you sleep on your stomach, you typically need to turn your head to one side which strains the small muscles and ligaments in your neck. Stomach sleeping should be avoided if possible. When you sleep on your back, it’s impossible to maintain your lower back curve, that puts unwanted pressure on the muscles and ligaments in the lower back.  If you are going to sleep on your back, try using a rolled up towel or pillow under your knees, that will help take the pressure off your lower back. Side sleeping is one of the best ways to maintain optimal alignment of your spine. While sleeping on your side remains the best ergonomic position for your spine, there are still 3 steps you should follow to get your spine into perfect alignment before you start counting your sheep!

  1. Head and Neck

Make sure you don’t tuck your chin down towards your chest, especially in the wintertime when your body is cold. This is the most natural time to want to get into the “fetal position.” Try to keep your chin level instead of tucked down. Tucking your chin can cause you to wake up with a headache at the base of your skull. Sleeping on a contoured pillow can also help keep your neck in the proper ergonomic position while you sleep which also helps you hold proper alignment in between adjustments and can result in waking up pain free. Also, it is important to note you shoulder only use 1 pillow while side sleeping so that your neck bent too far toward your ear.

2. Hips

When lying on your side, it’s normal to want to turn your top hip toward the mattress in front of you. This will rotate your hips OUT of alignment and lead you to waking up with tension and tightness in the low back. Be sure to keep your hips stacked directly one on top of each other with a pillow between your knees if you feel strain in either hip muscle. If you sleep with a partner or even furry friends it is important that they do not impede the alignment of your hips while you are side sleeping.

3. Shoulder

Make sure your bottom shoulder is underneath you, not out in front of you. Again, it is natural for us to want to push our shoulder out in front. That’s how you wake up with pain in your shoulder or in your upper back inside of your shoulder blade. Instead, don’t reach your arm too far out in front of your body, try keeping it DIRECTLY underneath your other shoulder.

I hope these tips are helpful for you. Feel free to share with friends or family members that might benefit from reading this blog post, and as always you can call the office at 515-278-9678 to schedule an appointment for a checkup.

Insomnia and your health

What is Insomnia?

The best explanation of insomnia is, struggling to get to sleep leading to insufficient rest. Some people fall asleep quickly, then suddenly awaken during the night and cannot fall asleep again, while others struggle to fall asleep at all. There are a few different types of insomnia. Transient insomnia is when you have stress or travels a lot and upsets the body’s regular wake-sleep pattern. However, if it continues for up to three weeks, it is short-term insomnia. Typical causes include higher levels of the stress hormone Cortisol in the body. Lastly, there is long-term insomnia, which lasts longer than three weeks caused by chronic pain, noise, psychological issues, drugs, and more.

Treating the ailment depends on the nature of the problem. There are different ways to help induce sleep using a Western Medicine approach such as psychotherapy for emotional stress and barbiturates such as benzodiazepines to help you sleep. The problem is using medication is dangerous and can become addictive. Another important note is that it can lead to depression, anxiety, and even cause weight gain. Your body repairs itself during sleep, but if you are not sleeping then your body is not repairing properly. Acupuncture is an Eastern approach to curing sleep disturbances that doesn’t add in outside chemicals to help, but rather balances the body from the inside out using meridians located on your body.

How Does Insomnia Affect Your Health?

No matter what the cause is, it can affect your health. Sleep deprivation will make you feel as if you are made of glass as everything in the body hurts. You will see everything through a haze from mental distortions to minor hallucinations. First comes the delusions and eventually it makes you sick. Some sicknesses caused are poor fitness, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Furthermore, your mood changes and a fact is that the cause could only be a bad habit.

What can we do about insomnia?

Acupuncture is an amazing tool used for treating insomnia all over the world. There are various points found along meridians in the body that can directly help with sleep disturbances. Here at YFC we tend to treat points in the ear as well as the head, arms and legs for insomnia. Our patients typically report sleeping better than they have in weeks after 2-5 acupuncture sessions that focus on stress relief and insomnia. Chiropractic is also helpful in overcoming insomnia by removing the interference on the nervous system which allows the body to re-enter its normal sleep-wake cycle. Often patients report sleeping better after around 12 visits however everybody responds differently and at their own pace. Once we do a consultation and full examination, we can give you our best recommendations at that time. If you or your loved ones are suffering from insomnia please reach out to us at 515-278-9678. We would love to help you get back to enjoying your sleep each night!