Total Back Newsletter

Top Low Back Stretches: Prayer Stretch

John Naumann Uncategorized Leave a comment  

Top Low Back Stretches: Prayer Stretch

The prayer stretch is a great stretch that primarily targets the extensor muscles of the back.  The prayer stretch is excellent because it limits the loading placed on the low back while performing the stretch and allows you to fully relax, letting gravity do the work for you. The prayer stretch is one of the best stretches you can do to protect yourself from a low back injury and to help relieve pain during the rehabilitation from a low back injury.  When people injure their low back, the muscles surrounding the area of the injury will tighten to guard the area from further injury.  The problem is that this constant tension in these muscle groups, can increase pain when a nerve is involved and decreases blood flow to this area.  Decreased blood flow increases the time for healing.  So stretching the muscles in this area help break this cycle and allow for the body to heal.

Prayer Stretch

To perform the prayer stretch first consider the surface you are performing it on.  Due to your knees making direct contact with the surface you will probably want to perform this stretch on some form of padded surface. Also if you have knee pain you may want to place a pillow between the backs of your thighs and calves when you are kneeling.

Prayer stretchprayer stretch 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

-On your hands and knees, sit back so your buttocks is resting on your heels.

-Reach your hands forward to lengthen your spine and feel a stretch in your middle back.

-You can reach your hands to either side to focus the stretch on the opposite side of your spine.

-Hold for 10-30 seconds and perform 2-3 repetitions.

When should I perform the prayer stretch?

The prayer stretch can be performed prior to or after any workout program, especially with back loading is involved.  This will help prevent injury.  Performing this stretch after injury will help expedite the healing process.

When should I avoid performing the prayer stretch?

The prayer stretch needs to be approached with caution if you are dealing with back pain.  Some people with severe knee pain will have difficulty performing the stretch.  If you feel an increase in pain or numbness, stop and contact your doctor.

 


What your numb hands can tell you about your health

John Naumann Bulging Disc, Herniated Disc, Neck Pain, Pinched Nerve Comments Off on What your numb hands can tell you about your health

Do you experience numb hands?  The numbness in your hands may not be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Many people attribute numbness in their hands to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but in many cases it can be caused from issues in the neck, shoulder, elbow, or wrist.

The median nerve is the nerve that is involved in with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  But if you look at the picture to right, you will see it comes out near the armpit, crosses at the bend of the elbow and then glides through the Carpal Tunnel of the wrist.  When affected numbness and pain is experienced at the palm side of the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger.  Compression, or irritation to the nerve anywhere from the spine can refer pain to this portion of the hand.ulnar and median nerves

The ulnar nerve is the nerve that innervates the ring finger and pinkie finger.  Many people experience pain or numbness affecting this nerve when they bump their elbow.  Commonly known as the “Funny Bone” nerve.  This nerve can be affected by compression or irritation at the neck, armpit, inside of elbow, or pinkie side of wrist.

The radial nerve is the nerve the innervates the back side of the hands thumb, forefinger, middle finger, and ring finger.  Many people can experience pain and numbness affected by this nerve when they experience lateral epicondylitis or commonly known as “Tennis Elbow”.  But the nerve can also be compressed or irritated anywhere from the spine, armpit, outside of elbow, or thumb side of wrist.Radial nerve

So the next time you experience numbness in your hand, think about where you are experiencing the numbness and what area you might have irritated or compressed to cause your symptoms.

 


Top Neck and Shoulder Stretches: Chin Tuck

John Naumann Neck Pain, Stretching Leave a comment  

Who doesn’t use a computer related product today?  Whether it is a desktop, laptop, tablet or cell phone, it is inevitable that you will have a forward head posture when using these products.  Forward head posture contributes to most neck and shoulder pain because it positions your head in front of the shoulders.  The Chin Tuck stretch is a great way to help address this forward head posture.  When performing this stretch you should feel the stretch at the base of the back of the head to the spine in between the shoulder blades.   It is important that when performing stretches in the neck that the individual does not have pain or numbness, but a mild stretching sensation in the muscles of the targeted area.  Please consult with a doctor if you have any questions about this exercise.

Chin Tuck

chin tuck– First sit or stand straight and tall

– Then, imagine that you are lying flat on your back with a pillow at the base of the neck

– Keeping your gaze straight forward, press back imagining you are pressing your neck into the pillow.

– Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, then relax

– Repeat 3 times

 

FAQ
When should you perform the chin tuck?

Every hour that you use a computer, tablet, cell phone, or reading a book, you should take a break and perform this exercise.

When should I avoid performing the chin tuck?

If you experience an increase in localized pain during and prolongs after stretch, numbness, dizziness, or radiating pain during stretch, discontinue stretch and consult a doctor.

 


Things that are making your low back pain worse

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Things that are making your low back pain worse

Making your low back pain worseLower back pain can be uncomfortable and difficult to manage, and some common coping strategies and issues could actually be making your low back pain worse.

Here are some things that could be making your low back pain worse.

  1. You lift things incorrectly –  It doesn’t take lifting a heavy object to increase back pain.  Most of the time it is how you lift an object.  Keeping you back straight, bending at the knees, using you legs, avoiding twisting motions, and keeping the weight close are good ways to avoid low back pain
  2. Your bed isn’t supportive enough – Mattresses should be changed about every 10 years and pillows about every year.  Many people experience a great benefit in reducing low back pain by just changing their mattress.
  3. You sit for long periods of time – Many jobs require working behind a desk, which results in long periods of time sitting.  But sitting actually increases pressure in the spine by up to 25% versus standing.  Also long sitting postures creates tightness in your muscles from “static” contraction.  The best way to address this is to get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour.
  4. Your not moving enough – Movement helps keep you healthy.  We see more people that are sitting or not moving enough throughout the day, than someone that works in a job that requires them to be constantly moving or people that make a focused effort to exercise throughout the day.
  5. You underestimate the value of medical treatment – Chiropractors and physical therapists are experts at addressing low back pain.  Addressing back pain immediately when you experience it is better than waiting and seeing if it will get better.   People with low back pain often wait and see if it will get better over time, but in many cases this just leads to a longer recovery time.

While addressing these things may not eliminate you have a low back pain experience, they can definitely impact the severity and period of time you are experiencing low back pain.


Top Neck and Shoulder Stretches: Trapezius Stretch

John Naumann Neck Pain, Uncategorized Leave a comment  

Here are the top neck and shoulder stretches everyone should be doing.  Neck pain can have many different causes and almost all of them included muscle tightness and muscle guarding.  Breaking up the tension in you neck and shoulders is one of the key elements to recovery.  It is important that when performing stretches in the neck that the individual does not have pain or numbness, but a mild stretching sensation in the muscles of the targeted area.  Please consult with a doctor if you have any questions about this exercise.  This week we start our series off with the Trapezius Stretch or commonly called the Trap Stretch.

upper trap stretchTrapezius Stretch

– Place the back of one hand on your lower back making sure you are keeping that sides shoulder down

– Place the other hand gently across the top of your head, while the head is looking straight forward

– Apply gentle pressure to your head pulling your head towards the hand on head side until you feel a good stretch, no pain. (Do not push down)

– Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and perform for both sides 3 times

 

FAQ:
When should I perform Trapezius Stretches?

Whenever you have limited range of motion in neck or have tightness in shoulders.  Perform at least 2-3 times daily.  If you are working at a computer workstation, perform 1 time per hour.

When should I avoid performing Trapezius Stretches?

If you experience an increase in localized pain during and prolongs after stretch, numbness, dizziness, or radiating pain during stretch, discontinue stretch and consult a doctor.

 


5 tips to set up a proper computer workstation

John Naumann Back Pain Leave a comment  

Computer workstation

Did you know that seated postures increase pressure in the spine by 50% versus standing?  This can be compounded by a slouching posture and can lead to computer workstation back pain.  Here are 5 tips to make sure that your computer workstation is set up properly:

  1. Have the right chair – The proper chair is the most important thing to providing proper postural support.  A good chair has good adjustable lumbar support, adjustable armrests and seat height adjustment. When seated your thighs should be parallel to the floor with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Set the right keyboard and mouse height – Arms should be 90 degrees at the elbow with upper arms at the side of body.
  3. Set the right monitor height – With uncorrected or standard corrected vision the monitor height should be set so when you look straight ahead you are looking 2 inches below the top of the monitor.  If you wear bifocals, position the monitor so you are looking directly at the top of the monitor.
  4. Use a telephone headset if you are on the phone 20% of the day or more –  Most people multitask when on the telephone over 20% of the workday.  This encourages people to pinch the telephone handset between head and shoulders, leading to back and neck pain.
  5. Take frequent stretch breaks – When you are sitting at a workstation your neck, shoulders, chest and forearm muscles tighten, reducing blood flow.  This leads to potential strain/sprain injuries.  It is recommended that you take a short 2 minute stretch break every 30 minutes.

If you want to know more, or have questions contact Dr. Jolley 480-633-8293.

 


Best Type of Pillow for Neck Pain

John Naumann Neck Pain, Uncategorized Comments Off on Best Type of Pillow for Neck Pain

Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck and wondered if your pillow is causing your neck pain?  Well you could be right.  Your pillow is very important in maintaining proper neck posture while you sleep.  So what are the best types of pillows for neck pain?

Pillows are very individual so it is important to find one that bests fits you.  But here are some of the best available options to meet your needs.

For side sleepers, use a pillow with a bulge/contour under the neck to help support proper spinal alignment.

  • Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour Pillow
  • Brookstone Biosense Shoulder Pillow
  • Leesa Reversible Hybrid Pillow
  • Classic Brands Cool Sleep Advanced Contour Cool Gel Memory Foam Pillow

 

For back sleepers, use a pillow that provides a firmer head support.  Avoid too big or too thin.

  • Classic Brands Cool Sleep
  • My Pillow Premium
  • Sahara Nights
  • Best Cervical Orthopedic
  • ISHOWStore Therapeutic & Ergonomic
  • Bamboo Pillow

 

Pillows wear out faster than mattresses, so look to replace them every one to two years.  Here is to a better night sleep with less back pain!

 

 


Reasons Your Neck Hurts

John Naumann Headaches, Neck Pain Comments Off on Reasons Your Neck Hurts

Reasons Your Neck Hurts and what to do about it

There are many reasons you neck may hurt and the treatment of neck pain is never the same for everyone. Knowing some of the common cause can help you better treat your neck pain!

  • Degenerative Disk Disease (DDD) – As you get older you will inevitably get degenerative disk disease.  Thank gravity for this one.  Your spine experiences constant compression over your life and the discs between your neck bones act as shock absorbers.  These discs begin to wear out over time and become more compressed and less pliable.  This can result in stiffness in the neck and increasing the stress on muscles and ligaments that attach in the neck.  Worst case scenarios, are when the disc degenerates to a point that it allows the nerves in that area to become “pinched”.  Typically ice and heat can help, but if it doesn’t chiropractic and physical therapy can be very helpful.  In severe cases, steriod injections or surgery might be necessary.
  • Neck Strain Injury – The neck is one of the most mobile areas of our body.  It allows for the head to rotate, flex, extend, and side to side motion.  This ability also creates a greater ability for an individual to experience a neck strain injury.  A strain is related to the muscles and ligaments that attach in the neck. A strain occurs when this muscle or ligament become extended with load over a long period of time.  We also call this a static posture.  My neck is holding a static posture while I type.  If I didn’t take an ocassional break to stretch and move my neck.  I could experience a neck injury if hadn’t just paused and moved my head around into a new position.  Make sure to change your neck posture about every 30 minutes when you are in a more strained neck posture.
  • Herniated disk – Your disk is firmer on the outside and jelly filled in the middle.  If the outer layer ruptures and can let the jelly filled interior to push out and apply pressure on a nerve and cause neck pain.  Physical therapy and chiropractic care can help treat the area and allow for the herniation to heal.  In some instances the herniation might not heal and a surgical procedure may be necessary.
  • Tension Headaches – This can be a result of neck pain.  If your muscles in your neck get tight do to static posture or stress it can result in increased pressure in the suboccipital muscles at the base of your skull.  This is most common among people that sit in front of a computer all day.  An Ergonomist can help with setting up your work station to improve your posture and decrease the tension in your neck.  Physical therapy and stretches are also a good option to help relieve your neck tension.

These are some of the most common causes of your neck pain.  Proper posture and changing your posture often can have a significant impact on reducing your potential for neck pain.


Is your bed causing your back pain?

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Is your bed causing your back pain?

bed causing your back painWith so many causes of back pain, many people forget to look at their bed as a potential source.  Considering you are spending about 1/3 of your life on one you should ask the question, is your bed causing your back pain?

So how do you evaluate if your bed is contributing to your back pain.

  1. When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed and back relaxed?
    • Your bed should afford you a restful night sleep and your back should be relaxed.  If not, your mattress may be ill fitting and need to be changed
  2. Do you seem to toss and turn all night?
    • If you toss and turn at night, it may be your sleeping position.  Back sleeping is optimal, side sleeping is OK, and stomach sleeping should be avoided.
  3. If you share a bed, does your bed partner complain of restless sleep?
    • If both you and your partner are complaining of discomfort while sleeping, it is probably time to look for a new mattress.
  4. Do you sleep with children or pets in the bed?
    • Pets and children move around a lot and can limit the space you have on your bed.  This can result in awkward sleeping positions that contribute to back pain
  5. Is your bed over 10 years old?
    • Beds wear out over time, and you should consider replacing your mattress about ever 10 years.

If you answer yes to many of these questions, you may be wanting to change your sleeping environment.  Better sleep and bed can lead to reduced back pain.

 


Diet can reduce back pain

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain Comments Off on Diet can reduce back pain

As they say, “You are what you eat!”  What we eat can help us meet many health and fitness goals.  So you might think your diet can reduce back pain,and you would be right.  Check out these diet tips to help reduce back pain.

  1. Stay hydrated – The discs in your spine are primarily made up of water.  Well hydrated body tissues help cushion the body and help the healing process.  Make sure to drink plenty of liquids.
  2. Eat healthy proteins – Protein is an important building block to muscle repair. But not all high protein foods are the same.  Consider adding fish like, salmon or tuna, to your diet.  They are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is an anti-inflammatory.  Some meats, especially processed meats, can actually create an inflammatory response.
  3. Eat “bright” vegetables – Typically vegetables with deep colors, actually have anti-inflammatory properties.  Try adding foods like, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, cherries, berries, grapes and red wine, pomegranate, and watermelon to your diet.
  4. Other foods – Other good food choices for an anti-pain diet: avocados; nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts); lean proteins, such as chicken and turkey; beans; and cocoa.

Take a comprehensive approach to treating your back pain by making sure your diet supports your back pain recovery.


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