Total Back Newsletter

Top Neck and Shoulder Stretches: Chest Stretch

John Naumann Neck Pain, Uncategorized Leave a comment  

You may be asking, “What does a chest stretch have to do with the neck and shoulders?”  The chest muscles are often neglected when it comes to stretching to maintain proper head and shoulder posture.  As people work with their hands in front of them, such as, when working on a computer, sewing, reading, etc., they often leave their shoulders in a forward rotated position due to the tension that builds up in the chest muscles.  The result is a slouching posture that leaves the head in a forward position and puts extra stress and strain on the neck and upper back.  By stretching the chest muscles throughout the day you counteract this tension and helps you position your shoulders in a neutral position supporting a proper posture.  When performing this stretch you should feel the stretch across the chest and front of the shoulders.   It is important that when performing stretches 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.

Chest Stretch

chest stretch– First find a doorway or corner that you can place your forearms and hands in a vertical position

– Make sure that your elbows are not higher than shoulder height when forearms and hands are placed on doorway or wall.

– From this position gently lean into the doorway or corner until you feel a good stretch across the chest and shoulders, remember no pain

– Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times

 

 

 

FAQ
When should you perform the chest stretch?

If you have a slouching posture or anytime you work for a long period of time with your hands in front of you.  If you work in front of a computer this stretch should be performed about every hour.

When should I avoid performing the chest stretch?

If you experience pain in the shoulder or chest when performing the stretch.  Consult with a doctor if you experience any of these issues when performing the stretch.

 

 


How your footwear can affect back pain

John Naumann Back Pain Leave a comment  

How your footwear can affect back pain

flip flop

Next time you experience back pain, consider your footwear.  Why? Well think of your footwear like tires on a car, when the tread wears on the tires it can cause an imbalance and the car will begin to perform poorly.  This is why auto mechanics recommend regular rotations, alignments, and service.  Our bodies are not much different when it comes to this.  Our feet are our foundation when walking and standing, how they perform can have a direct influence on how the rest of our body feels.  Here are some tips when it comes to footwear to help avoid back pain.

  1. If you have foot and ankle problems get it checked out or it can lead to back problems – Pain or dysfunction in your feet affect your gait and standing posture which directly affects your back.
  2. Replace the “tires” – Like the tires on the car your shoes should be replace between every 3-6 months, depending on how much you wear them.  Do not think that because the shoe shows no outward wear that they aren’t worn.  The pressure from your feet inside the shoe will apply wear to the inside support, which is hard to see.  If you wear you shoes often you may need to change them sooner due to wear on the soles.
  3. Make sure your shoes are a right fit – Even if you have worn a size 10 shoe for 20 years, your size may have changed.  As we age the arches in our feet begin to change and even though we are no longer growing, our feet can flatten increasing the length of our feet.  Make sure the shoes you are wearing have about 1/2″ space between the tip of the shoe and you big toe.
  4. Wear orthotics – Fitted orthotics can significantly improve joint alignment.  Most over the counter orthotics might provide temporary foot relief, many aren’t design to help improve posture which directly influences back pain.
  5. Go to a running shoe store to get fit for shoes – Even if you don’t run, the running shoe store has an amazing number of options for all kinds of feet.  The employees at running shoe stores are often trained to analyze foot strike patterns to help you find the shoe that fits your individual need.  Runners are the ultimate footwear users, learn from their experience.
  6. Form versus fashion – Telling a woman not to wear high heels is like telling them to jump off a tall building, you just don’t do it.  But there are considerations, high heels have a lot of potential negative effects on our feet and back.  Limit how long you wear high heels.  Carry a pair of flats with you to change out in when you are going to be on your feet for much of the day, and put the high heels on when it is “necessary”.
  7. Sandals – Limit sandal and flip-flop wear.  They provide little to no support for the foot and can lead to foot problems, resulting in back pain.  Flip flop and sandals should only be worn on a day that involves limited walking or standing.

While your back pain may have many different causes, having a good foundation and making sure you have proper footwear is a good place to start. Footwear and back pain often come together.


Can rest cause back pain?

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Can rest cause back pain?

rest cause back painHow does rest cause back pain?

For years the common treatment was rest and lack of activity to help recover from back pain.  But that rest might be doing more harm than good.  So how does rest cause back pain?

When people rest and aren’t moving or using there back, there muscles in the back get weaker and weaker.  Consider a recent finding with astronauts.  About 30% of the astronauts that go into space experience moderate to severe back pain, even though they are in excellent physical condition. The findings have shown that while in space the astronauts body is weightless so there is very little pressure on the back and very little need for muscles that support the lumbar spine to be engaged.  The findings show weaker lumbar spine muscles can result in back pain, even when there is no pressure on the spine.

Reducing the risk of back pain whether here on earth or in space, requires keeping the muscles strong in you back.  The Center for Total Back Care, has always used the Med-X system, as part of our rehabilitation program because it does the best job in isolating and strengthening the muscles in the lumbar spine.  Maybe NASA should look into creating a similar program to help treat their astronauts?

 


The Placebo effect on Back Pain

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on The Placebo effect on Back Pain

How does the placebo effect back pain?

People suffering from chronic back pain will often turn to medication to help ease the pain.  A recent study, researchers recruited 97 adult patients with low back pain lasting at least 3 months. Patients were randomly assigned to 3 weeks of treatment on their usual pain medications alone, or on their usual medications plus placebo.  Importantly, patients knew they were taking a placebo. The researchers explained to patients about the “potentially powerful” placebo effect, and how the body may automatically respond to placebo treatments.  Measures of back pain and disability were compared between groups. 83 patients completed the study. Researchers found greater reductions in pain for patients assigned to placebo. On a 0-to-10 scale, patients in the placebo group had a 1.5-point improvement in pain score, compared to no significant change for patients taking usual medications only. Overall, open placebo treatment reduced initial pain and disability scores by approximately 30%. Patients in the usual-treatment group had similar improvements after they started taking placebo pills.  Researchers suggest that open-label placebo can be a safe and effective adjunct to treatment for chronic low back pain. Patients have better improvement when placebo is added to pain medications.

How does this happen?  Well one theory would suggest that our minds have a greater impact on controlling pain impulses than just medications.  Being aware of the environment and mental factors that may contribute to the triggering of chronic back pain may help some people manage it better, along with addressing the functional deficiencies that may be causing the back pain.


8 GREAT EXERCISE TIPS

Dr. Jolley Uncategorized Leave a comment  

great-exercise-tips

Great Exercise Tips!

1. HAVE A PLAN
Consistent exercise requires focus, and focus requires a plan. Outline your workouts by day, week and month so when you hit the gym, you know what to do.

2. DON’T OVERDO IT
In the real world, you’re not competing on “The Biggest Loser.” Work out for five hours a day and you’ll end up burned out, injured or both. Try 45 minutes, 3-4 times a week.

3. FIGHT TEMPTATION
We’re talking about the inevitable temptation to skip a workout. When you’re having a “bad day,” stay strong and get to the gym. Skip out and you’ll regret it; make it happen and you’ll feel great afterward.

4. SCHEDULE BREAKS
Many people are afraid to stop working out once they start, but you need time to refresh yourself and allow your body to do the same. Schedule a consistent break (3-4 days or an entire week) every few months and then start right up again.

5. BE CREATIVE
Your body and mind get bored after a certain amount of time doing the same thing. Mix things up every so often, whether it’s trying a few new exercises, changing the time of day you work out, or even changing up the setting (e.g., running outside versus on the treadmill).

6. RECRUIT SUPPORT
When it comes to exercise, some people can fly solo, and that’s great; but for others, they need a friend or spouse to help keep them on track. If you can’t do it alone, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

7. LESS IS MORE
Unless your goal is to look like a body-builder, you can put the heavy weights down. Body-weight, resistance bands and balls, and other basic equipment can get the job done just fine.

8. STAY POSITIVE
This is the most difficult tip to stay true to, but it’s also the most important. Every day isn’t sunshine and roses; that’s true in life and in your exercise routine. Some days or weeks, you won’t feel as if you’re making any progress. That’s the time to stay positive, fight through it and remember why you decided to start exercising in the first place.

Source: To Your Health

 


WALKING SPEED PREDICTS LIFE EXPECTANCY

Dr. Jolley Back Pain, Uncategorized Leave a comment  

walking-for-health-logo_cmyk_highres1-250x250As we age, many of us find that our walking speed gets slower. Most of us assume that it’s inevitable. It’s not. Researchers compared natural walking speed and life expectancy and came to some startling conclusion.

They combined the results of nine different studies and followed 34,000 participants for up to 21 years. Each participant was age 65 or older, with an average age of 73 years. Their natural walking speed, from a standing start, was measured and timed for short distances.

The result of the studies: Those who naturally have an above average walking speed will generally also have a longer-than-average life expectancy. Researchers were able to correlate current age with walking speed and predict the likely survival ages. For those participants age 75 and older, the information was especially on target.

Additionally, researchers realized that the information was valuable enough to be used as a standard assessment, such as blood pressure, heart rate, weight and general mobility tests.

That’s not to say you should intentionally start walking faster. Your body picks it’s own natural speed. However, it wouldn’t hurt to have your doctor do a test to see how fast you normally walk. It can be done easily in a hallway of the doctor’s office by a nurse or practitioner.

If you walk slower than average, your doctor could look for the reasons why, as walking speed is an indication of the overall state of your health. If a problem is identified and then remedied, your normal walking speed may increase – which will put you in a category of those who have a longer life expectancy and better body functioning.

Wear your sneakers to the doctor’s office!

Source: SENIOR NEWS LINE –By: Matilda Charles


Myths about back pain

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Myths about back pain

myths about back pain

5 Myths about back pain

Any medical condition can have myths created around the causes.  We often have discussions with patients around the causes of back pain and we often hear myths about back pain.  Here are some of the most common myths around back pain.

  1. Heavy school back packs cause back pain – A recent study showed no direct correlation to heavy back packs and back pain.  Static postures have more correlation to a students back pain than back packs
  2. Moving will cause more back pain – When a person has back pain it can be very uncomfortable to move in any way, but the reality is that movement helps relax muscles in spasm. Smooth, mild movements, while uncomfortable at first, will help decrease back pain and helps speed up the healing process.
  3. Avoid weightlifting with back pain – This goes in conjunction with moving.  If you approach weightlifting with lighter loads and continue to build up the weight you will strengthen your body which will be more capable of handling stresses that can cause back pain
  4. MRI’s and X-rays will diagnose back pain –  As we age our back changes, discs narrow and bone spurring can occur.  This doesn’t mean that you are going to have back pain.  Most people have these conditions and rarely have back pain.
  5. Pain means you have damaged tissue – Pain can be related to many things that don’t necessarily mean you have damaged tissue.  Pain intensity is unique to each individual and the body responds differently for everyone.  People that have been on pain management pills can struggle with false pain when they aren’t taking them.  Sometimes just interrupting the pain impulse can alleviate back pain immediately.

How we lift in our youth has links to back pain in our mid-life

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on How we lift in our youth has links to back pain in our mid-life

back pain in mid-lifeA recent study out of Finland has shown links between how we lift and how we lift in our youth has links to back pain in our mid-life.  When we are younger we don’t care as much about how we lift or what we lift because we rarely experience significant back pain.

The study showed men, that reported heavy lifting in their youth, had double the chance of lower back pain.  Women that reported moderate lifting had double the chance to experience lower back pain.

People that start off learning and practicing how to lift correctly and maintain a good physical conditioning program can decrease this risk.  The important thing is that the habits we get in our youths can have a lasting effect later in life.


Yard Work and Back Pain

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Yard Work and Back Pain

yard-work

Everyone loves a beautifully maintained yard, but most people don’t love the maintenance part of the beautiful yard.  Yard maintenance, especially in an Arizona summer, can be grueling work and people with back pain need to take special precautions.  Use these tips to help address yard work and back pain:

  1. Use the right tool – Using the right tool for whatever you are doing in the yard increases efficiency and decreases stress on the body, especially the back.
  2. Loosen up – Before you start doing heavy yard work, warm-up doing some of the lighter tasks to activate the muscles without putting a lot of load on them
  3. Hydrate –  Summertime is hot, make sure you are well hydrated before you start and take plenty of fluid breaks.  Dehydration can cause cramping, which can lead to muscle spasms and strain/sprain injuries.
  4. Mix up yard tasks –  If you have work that requires you to be bent over, mix it up with work that requires you to work over you head.  This uses different muscle groups and allows for muscle recovery.
  5. Take breaks – Working all day on the yard with no breaks is dangerous.  Take frequent breaks to rehydrate, rest, and recover.

If you are currently dealing with back pain, you may want to outsource the labor so you don’t aggravate your back condition.


What is Cupping?

John Naumann Back Pain, Physical Therapy, Treatment Comments Off on What is Cupping?

fire-glass-cupping-therapyEveryone watching the Olympics saw the large purple dots all over Michael Phelps and it started the buzz, what is cupping?  The interesting thing is that cupping is nothing new and is actually one of the oldest treatment modalities and has been used for almost 3,000 years! Like many therapeutic modalities its primary function is to increase blood flow to the treated area, speeding up the healing process.

Cupping essentially is a bowl or cup that is placed on the surface of the skin and the air is removed, creating a vacuum that encourages the skin and blood vessels in the area to expand.  The coloration on the skin is caused by some of the capillaries bursting and causing a mild bruising in the area.  This is why Michael Phelps has the purple dots on his shoulders and back.

While you may be interested in the potential healing aspects of cupping, most physical therapy and chiropractic practices offer therapeutic modalities that don’t leave the visible bruising and treatments that offer more empirical evidence of efficacy than cupping.  Cupping has not had many studies performed to verify its effectiveness in treating musculoskeletal ailments, and the studies that have been done have inconclusive findings.


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