Total Back Newsletter

10 tips to reduce stress

John Naumann Acute Pain, Chronic Pain, Headaches Comments Off on 10 tips to reduce stress

Reducing stress in your life helps with your overall well-being and helps reduce pain. When we are stressed the body is at a continuous state of fight or flight through the release of cortisol which can inhibit our mind from returning to a state of calm.   Here are 10 tips to reduce stress that doesn’t involve a vacation or spa weekend.

  1. Meditate – This can take place anywhere at anytime.  Sit up straight with feet on floor, and think of something warm and relaxing and close your eyes.  Shut out the world around you and let your mind focus on this peaceful, serene place.  A few minutes of meditation can make a big difference in
  2. Deep breathing – This is excellent when you feel frantic and hot tempered.  Sitting calmly for about 5 minutes just taking slow deep breaths that go from your diaphragm to the upper part of your chest can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.
  3. Be Present – Reduce the number of things you are thinking about and focus on one sense, like, taste, touch, hearing, smell, or sight.  Listen to nature or watch a pretty view.  Bring yourself to the now.
  4. Reach out to people – Reach out to your family or friends, do this face to face, not online.  Talk to them about what you are dealing with and invite a new perspective that may help you find solace.
  5. Tune into your body – Find a place to lay down flat on your back and start with your toes and go up, taking a moment to see how each body part feels.
  6. Decompress – Take a warm bath, lay on a heating pad, place a warm wash cloth on your face, or massage an area that is holding tension.
  7. Laugh out Loud – Think of something funny, listen to a comedian you like, but the act of smiling and laughing triggers the release of endorphins that helps suppress the release of cortisol.
  8. Listen to music – Listening to your favorite up-beat music and even singing along with it can do wonders in relieving your stress.
  9. Get moving – Exercise and activity can help release chemicals that help provide positive energy and emotions.
  10. Be grateful – Create a journal that you write in daily that documents what you did for yourself, work, family, and community.  Even if it is what you might consider a minor thing it triggers a positive emotional response in the brain.

Highly effective people lead stressful lives but have understand that stress doesn’t have to be contained in the body, but released in a way that can lead to a positive lifestyle.  It’s the harboring of stress in the body that does damage to it and can lead to more pain.

Drugs for Back Pain, nothing more than a placebo

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Drugs for Back Pain, nothing more than a placebo

Drugs for back pain

Recent study finds using drugs for back pain provide little benefit

Using drugs for back pain, such as ibuprofen (Advil) are commonly used to cope with back pain, but research from The George Institute for Global Health found they offer little benefit but cause side effects. Researchers found that in 35 trials testing painkillers and back pain, only 1 in 6 reported significant benefit!

“Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is commonly managed by prescribing medicines such as anti-inflammatories,” said lead author Manuela Ferreira.  “But our results show anti-inflammatory drugs actually only provide very limited short term pain relief. They do reduce the level of pain, but only very slightly, and arguably not of any clinical significance.”

Many people also can experience significant side effects such as liver damage and gastro-intestinal bleeding that can negate any of the potential benefits the medication might have.

Last year, a study conducted at the University of North Texas Health Science Center found manipulative therapies reduced pain and improved function in patients suffering from chronic low back pain.

Top Low Back Stretches: Prone Press Up Stretch

John Naumann Back Pain Leave a comment  

Top Low Back Stretches: Prone Press Up Stretch

The prone press up stretch focuses primarily on the spine itself.  Often when people sit with poor posture the back becomes rounded increasing spinal pressure and putting pressure on the disc.  If you have a bulge or herniation in this disc it can increase pressure on the nerves resulting in back and lower extremity pain.  By performing the prone press up stretch you counteract this spinal position.  People that have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis, should consult with a medical provider before performing these exercises.

Prone Press Up Stretch

Prone Press Up-Begin stretch by laying face down on a flat surface

-Place hands/elbows on surface at shoulder height with elbows away from body

-Slowly raise your shoulders by pressing your hands/elbows into the surface.  Make sure to keep your hips and legs on the surface.

-Raise to a height that is comfortable

Elbow Prone Press Up      -Hold for 10 seconds and perform 10 times




When should I perform the prone press up stretch?

Perform this stretch when you have been in forward posture for long periods of time.  This includes sitting, working bent over, or exercising in a bent over position.

When should you not perform the prone press up stretch?

People with existing spinal conditions such as a fusion, stenosis, or spondylolisthesis should consult with their doctor before performing this stretch.  Also if you experience increased pain while performing or prolonged pain after stretch.

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




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.


Dr. Jolley Uncategorized Leave a comment  


Great Exercise Tips!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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



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.

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