Total Back Newsletter

Yoga moves that can help save your back!

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f0505_Hot-YogaCertain exercises can help reduce back and neck pain.  Yoga is very popular for maintaining flexibility, balance, and proper core strength.  These are all fundamental to ensure a healthy neck and back.  Check out  this recent article from Time magazine: These 5 Yoga Moves Will Save You From Back Pain.

Getting Older and Back Injuries

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Lower Back Pain

As we get older our body’s mechanisms to repair tissues decreases in its ability to heal.  This is why younger people who have back sprain/strain injuries can sometimes heal fairly quickly with little or no treatment, while people over 35 begin to take longer to recover from these same types of injuries. A recent article in ChiroNexus on Why Aging Aggravates Spinal Injuries, helps explain some of the science behind this phenomenon.  As chiropractic and physical therapy providers our job is to help encourage the body’s ability to heal itself and speed up the recovery process.  As we get older it is important not to ignore or try to “work through” these types of injuries, because there is a strong likelihood they will only get worse.  If you are struggling or know someone struggling with a back injury, have them contact us at 480-633-8293.

Achieving Maximum Results By Perry Nickelson, DC

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Achieving maximum results with your workouts, requires preparation, discipline, and consistency.  Here are 5 key step to optimizing your results.

1) Dynamic Warm-Ups
How can you possibly expect to get maximum results if you don’t establish a base foundation and get your body ready to perform? The purpose of a dynamic warm-up is to prepare your body for your workout. It’s value comes from taking your body through all the planes of functional human movement, including bending, twisting and rotating.
Example dynamic warm-up exercises: Squat-to-stand movements (10 reps), lateral lunges (10 reps), and reverse lunges with twist and overhead reach (five reps each side).

2) Interval Training
What’s the best-kept secret when it comes to intense workouts? Studies have shown that about five minutes of high-intensity exercise, consisting of eight rounds of 20 seconds of exercise per round followed by 20 seconds off for recovery, is superior to 60 minutes of continuous cardio. Read that one more time so it sinks in! An important thing to remember when implementing this into your program is to never substitute duration for intensity. When working only a short period of time, you must ensure that your exercise form is perfect on each repetition.

3) Timed Workouts
This is a similar concept to interval training, except the “bursts” of exercise are a bit longer and you’re generally doing only one particular exercise at a time, rather than performing a whole-body workout all at once. The purpose is essentially the same: to maximize the benefits of a resistance training program by creating maximum metabolic disturbance. That means you burn up body fat keeping your heart rate constantly elevated while training. Your metabolism never reaches an equilibrium set-point due to the alteration in timing.

4) Super-Set Training Using Your Body-Weight
Intensify your weight training by adding “super sets” of body-weight training to truly engage your muscles. Super-setting is a technique in which you take an exercise targeted for a specific muscle group and immediately perform a similar exercise with no rest. With this technique, you don’t use weights or machines for the second exercise. This is a time-efficient, intensive way to maximize strength and lean muscle development. Best of all, you can use this principle for any workout.
Example exercise, Chest Combination: flat-bench dumbbell presses (15 repetitions), super-setted with wide-grip push-ups (25 repetitions). Back combination: machine pull downs (15 repetitions), super-setted with body-weight pull-ups (maximum number of repetitions you can perform).

5) Recovery and Regeneration
Working out breaks your muscles down; in order for them to heal properly, you must give your body adequate time and opportunity to rest. Without appropriate recovery time, you risk overtraining, which can lead to injury and lethargy. Moreover, too much exercise limits your progress and your body becomes catabolic, meaning it begins to degenerate. Eventual loss of lean muscle mass and bone density occurs. How can your body thrive when you do not allow proper healing? No amount of exercise will positively affect your body if you are in a state of overtraining. Serious weight training creates microtrauma; tiny tears and strains in your muscles and connective tissues. To ensure that you are not damaging your body, it is recommended to weight train no more than three times in a seven-day period.” Incorporate regeneration programs such as active isolated rope stretching and myofascial foam rolling techniques on rest days for accelerated recovery.

Source: to your Health –By: Perry Nickelson, DC

Get Up and Get Moving Big Benefits Of Physical Activity By Drs. Ronald Klatz and Robert Goldman

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1) Help Your Heart
While a routine program of physical exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of premature death in people with coronary artery disease, Richard V. Milani, from the Ochsner Clinic Foundation, and colleagues investigated how psychosocial stress influences the effects of exercise training. The team followed 522 cardiac patients, including 53 who had high stress levels and 27 control patients who had high stress levels but did not engage in cardiac rehabilitation. The study subjects were offered 12 weeks of exercise classes consisting of 10 minutes of warm-up, 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking, rowing, jogging, or similar), and then a 10-minute cool down stretch.

The classes were given three times a week and subjects were also asked to engage in one to three exercise sessions a week on their own. The researchers found that the subjects who became physically fitter during the study period (by exercising) were 60 percent less likely to die in the following six years. Exercise also helped reduce stress levels from one in 10 patients to fewer than one in 20 patients, which lowered the overall death rate for stressed subjects by an impressive 20 percent. Now that’s a great way to lower your stress and increase your life span at the same time!
Source: Richard V. Milani, Carl J. Lavie. “Reducing Psychosocial Stress: A Novel Mechanism of Improving Survival From Exercise Training.” American Journal of Medicine, October 2009.

2) Build Strong Bones
Wolfgang Kemmler, from Freidrich-Alexander University (Germany), and colleagues analyzed data on 246 older women enrolled in the Senior Fitness and Prevention Study. The researchers found that women who exercised had higher bone density in their spine and hip, and also had a 66 percent reduced rate of falls. Fractures due to falls were twice as common in control subject vs. the exercise group. The authors’ conclusion: “Compared with a general wellness program, our 18-month exercise program significantly improved [bone mineral density] and fall risk.”
Source: Wolfgang Kemmler W, et al. “Exercise Effects on Bone Mineral Density, Falls, Coronary Risk Factors, and Health Care Costs in Older Women: The Randomized Controlled Senior Fitness and Prevention (SEFIP) Study.” Archives of Internal Medicine, January 2010.

3) Grow Brain Cells
In that a number of previous studies have suggested regular exercise improves brain health, David J. Creer, from the National Institute on Aging, and colleagues studied the underlying mechanisms dictating how exercise improves information processing. The researchers prompted adult mice to use running wheels, finding that doing so increased their number of brain cells and enabled them to perform better at spatial learning tests compared to mice that did not exercise) The exercising mice were better able to tell the difference between the locations of two adjacent identical stimuli, an ability that the team found to be closely linked to an increase in new brain cell growth in the hippocampus portion of the brain.
Source: Creer DJ, et al. “Running Enhances Spatial Pattern Separation in Mine.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jan. 19, 2010.

Source: To Your Health –By: Drs. Ronald K

RUNNING ON EMPTY By Dr. Perry Nickelston

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Are you running on empty? Is your life spiraling into one prolonged episode of fatigue? There are many factors that can contribute to fatigue, including stress, poor eating habits, altered sleeping patterns, poor breathing, lack of exercise, too much exercise, and sometimes an underlying health condition. Most of the time, fatigue can be traced to one or more of your daily habits or routines. More than likely, you already know what’s causing your fatigue; you’re just not doing enough about it. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most powerful changes you can make today to fight fatigue.

Whatever happened to getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep? When was the last time you actually hit that goal? Almost never, right? That’s a shame because adequate sleep is one of the most effective ways to help your body recover and regenerate from the stressors of life. It is paramount to do whatever you can to get eight hours of sleep a night.

Exercise is a fantastic way to combat fatigue and increase energy while becoming healthy. The key is to not exercise so much that you end up sending your body into a state of overtraining and more fatigue. More is not better with exercise; better is better. It is recommended that you exercise 20-45 minutes three to four days per week. You must allow sufficient time for your body to recover from intensive workouts, so adequate rest is crucial if you want to achieve optimal results. If you overdo it, your body will let you know with fatigue and/or injury.

Simply put, don’t put off until tomorrow anything that you can do today, whether it’s changing your car’s oil, going to the grocery store or doing any of the daily tasks that get put off again… and again. Get organized and make a plan of action to complete tasks. Procrastination leads to mental stress and anxiety. It’s the dread of anticipation that will take it out of you every time. To minimize the risk of perpetual procrastination, make a list of the “Top 5 Things to Do Before Noon” each day. Whatever task you want to do the least should be at the top of the list. Get these tasks over and done with before midday, and you won’t spend the day worrying and stressing about getting them done. Then you can start on your To Do List for the remainder of the day.

Eating frequently helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels, preventing energy crashes. If you wait too long between feedings, your insulin levels spike, causing your body to go on a hormonal roller-coaster ride. You will feel surges of energy followed by sudden crashes with tiredness, fatigue and lethargy. It is very difficult to maintain a normal state of energy with big swings in metabolic hormones.

Try consuming three regular meals and two snacks per day, waiting no longer than three hours between meals. Never skip breakfast. Breakfast sets the tone for the day in terms of your metabolism. Combine macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) each time you eat. Limit simple carbohydrates such as juice drinks, bread, pasta and crackers (especially the refined variety), and processed foods, as these are known to cause mood swings from blood sugar changes. Combining macronutrients normalizes the glycemic index effects of foods on your blood sugar levels. This index traces how much blood sugar spikes in relationship to the foods you eat. The lower the glycemic index number, the better for your body. Finally eat more protein and fibrous carbohydrates to reduce digestive fatigue on the body.

Source: To Your Health –By: Dr. Perry Nickelston



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What are the high-risk times and events for your lower back? Why can you get into more trouble doing something as simple as picking up a loaf of bread from the trunk of the car, rather than doing something more challenging? What simple steps can you take to avoid injury and pain? Let’s get the answers to these questions and more.

When it comes to your lower back and injury risk, there are two critical times when you need to be especially careful. One is first thing in the morning. Your back is actually swollen at that time. You are substantially taller, and the discs have extra fluid in them. A careless forward bend or twist first thing in the morning can do substantial damage to your discs or other back structures. It doesn’t seem fair that such a simple thing, bending and twisting, something you have done thousands of times before, can suddenly cause big problems.

The other critical time is after you have been sitting. Long car drives or airplane trips are especially challenging. In this case, the culprit is something called “creep.” This means that your ligaments and tendons lengthen into the position that you have been in. Think of sitting in a bent-forward position, as your legs are forward. The ligaments and tendons do not provide protection properly when they have been lengthened by creep. When you first get up from sitting, you are at risk. The longer you have been sitting, the higher the risk. If you sit more upright, with good lumbar support, you will have somewhat less risk.

Don’t bend over immediately after sitting. Sitting, even in good posture, puts you at risk. The longer you end up sitting and the worse the seat is, the more at risk you are. Airlines are very risky; it’s hard to get up and move around because of the tight quarters, and the minute the plane stops, you bend over and get stuff from under the seat, or reach up and twist and lift to get your bag from the overhead compartment. After a long sit, give yourself at least a few seconds of backward bending and/or moving around to reset your spine. Then you can carefully, using your hips rather than your back, bend over to pick up something.

When you sit, don’t slump. Slumping reinforces the risks, making it more likely for something bad to happen to your discs or joints or muscles. So sit up straight and keep your back in neutral. Neutral means that you keep a bit of a lordosis (inward curve) in your lower back, keep the lumbar spine from slumping forward, stay more upright. This simple action can make a huge difference. Like any habit, this will require you to “Just Do It” for a few weeks.

Talk to your doctor about these and other high-risk moments for your lower back, and what you can do to relieve low back pain or avoid the pain altogether.

Source: To Your Health –By: Marc Heller, DC



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Watching students carrying their backpacks on a college campus can be a chiropractor’s nightmare, for much damage is in process to young backs that will show up years later in multiple back problems. “A lot of people are wearing their backpacks too heavy, which is harming their backs and their health,” said Allison Gross, a chiropractor at the EnCana Wellness Center at Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta.

And Jim Krumpak, a chiropractor in Youngstown, Ohio, said heavy book bags could cause eventual disc injury, bone spurs, thinning of discs and nerve irritation. He said backpacks should be about 15 percent of a person’s body weight.

At Youngstown State University, a survey of 50 students showed that students carry book bags that weigh anywhere from five to 30 pounds. “Heavy book bags can certainly affect young adults. Most studies have focused on high school students, but they can also apply to college students,” Krumpak said.

The biggest backpack sins include carrying the bag on one shoulder, failing to use the waist strap and letting it rest too far down the back, Gross said, suggesting the following tips: On the 15-percent-of-body-weight rule, “closer to 10 percent is better,” she advised. Use a backpack that has shoulder straps that are at least two inches wide and padded. Always use both shoulder straps.

“If your bag is slung over one shoulder, even with a light weight, it’s unhealthy for the spine.” — The top of the backpack should be at shoulder level and the bottom no lower than the top of your hips. Use the waist straps to make sure the backpack fits snugly against your back.

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