Eat more fat!

I’ve had a few conversations lately with clients wanting to know more about diet and nutrition, some want to lose weight, some just want to be healthier, but it seems there is a lot of questions about what is okay to eat, and a lot of disbelief when I say eating meat and fats can be good for you. Time now to dispel some of those myths about fats as well as which are okay to eat, and which fats to avoid.

“Good” fats such as avocados, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts), salmon etc, are great for the body. They promote fat burn, build muscle faster, supply your body with essential nutrients, better absorb certain vitamins and antioxidants, and prevent nutrient loss during cooking. Your body can run quite well using fat as an energy source in replacement of carbs, and this is also an effective way to break down fat tissue.

You can even eat bacon! Bacon contains above 40% monounsaturated fat, the same as in olive oil! However, it is best to keep it to only 3-4 days/week.

So what are some good sources of fat? Fats such as grass-fed animal fat, avocado, coconut, olive oil, walnuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, macadamias, and butter are all are great sources, however examples of sources you should avoid are grain fed meat, heavily processed meat (e.g. fritz), sausages containing gluten, and margarine.

So as you can see, good fats have great nutritional value but as it is still fat, it’s important to be mindful of eating in moderation.

 

Keep calm and get adjusted!

 

Something to ponder…

So we’re almost through the first month of the new year now and I thought that today perhaps I might share a couple of quotes, particularly for those who have set goals for themselves, just to give you something to ponder.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the universe; your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of all that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson (from her book A Return to Love)

“Embrace this gift of life and extract every ounce of enjoyment out of it. That is the purpose of your existence; to extract, and help others extract, every possible ounce of joy…..Follow your genetic recipe and supply the right lifestyle ingredients; commit constant acts of self preservation and self empowerment, and role model this way of life for others.” – Dr James Chestnut, D.C. (from his book The Wellness Paradigm)

Think about how you felt while reading the words. Are you living your life to the fullest and making the most of every moment? Do you consider yourself a role model to others? Are there aspects of your life you want to improve or do “better”? There is no better day than today to get started.

Last of all, don’t ever let anyone dim your light or take your sparkle.

Keep calm and get adjusted.

 

Dr Belinda is a chiropractor in Mt Barker, SA, and can be reached through www.bydesignchiropractic.com.au. She has a background in sports chiropractic and exercise physiology. Beyond spinal correction to you keep you functioning at your best, Dr Belinda also assesses and analyses conditions of the foot, knee, hips, hand, arm, and shoulders.

Magnesium – why it’s essential to our existence

Not a lot is said about magnesium, yet it’s been estimated that almost 75 percent of us are deficient in this essential mineral with potentially significant health consequences. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, with just about all body processes being regulating by 80% of these enzymatic reactions. Magnesium plays a fundamental role in neuromuscular, cardiovascular, immune, and hormonal function, as well as breaking down food and forming new products in processes such as carbohydrate metabolism, fat oxidation, and protein synthesis.

Unfortunately, since only one percent of magnesium is distributed in your blood, it makes testing for magnesium in your body highly inaccurate with only an estimation of levels, therefore tests are usually evaluated for in conjunction with symptoms you exhibit. Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue and weakness, whereas ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms such as numbness and tingling, muscle contractions and cramps (very common), seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms.

I could list a whole lot of benefits that come with optimal levels of magnesium such as better sleep, improved mood, reduced fatigue and enhanced recovery, bigger and stronger muscles and improved muscle function, better flexibility, improved bone integrity and strength, improved energy conversion of carbohydrates into energy, remineralised teeth, reduction of lactic acid, proper hydration of the body and maintenance of electrolyte levels, improved oxygen delivery to the blood, relief of constipation, improved enzyme function, decreased tissue damage with diabetes, stroke prevention, prevention of heart disease, prevention of period pain…but I think you get the idea.

So, you may be wondering how magnesium can be lost from the body and there are many ways in which this can happen, for example consumption of alcohol, coffee, black tea, grains, soy, most pharmaceutical drugs, calcium supplements, unhealthy digestive system, unhealthy kidneys, diabetes, age…just to name a few. Therefore regular supplementation is a great and reliable way to boost your magnesium levels.

Where else can I get magnesium from? Magnesium can be found in a variety of foods and in particular leafy green vegetables. Fish, yoghurt, and milk have 24 to 90mg of magnesium per serving size. Spinach has 75mg per 1/2 cup, and potatoes and bean varieties have 35 to 57mg per serving. Bananas, almonds, peanuts, and cashews are another great source of magnesium with 35 to 80mg per serving.

How much do I need? It is recommended that a daily intake of magnesium for adult males aged between 19-30 is 400mg and men aged 31 and over is 420mg, whilst for females aged 19-30 it’s 310mg and females over 31 require 320mg. During pregnancy and lactation however, adult females require 310 to 360mg of magnesium daily. In regards to supplements, it is suggested that the tolerable upper intake level for all adults should not exceed 350mg per day. If you’re unsure about what is best for you then make sure to consult your primary health care professional.

And as always, keep calm and get adjusted!!

 

Dr Belinda is a chiropractor in Mt Barker, SA, and can be reached through www.bydesignchiropractic.com.au. She has a background in sports chiropractic and exercise physiology. Beyond spinal correction to you keep you functioning at your best, Dr Belinda also assesses and analyses conditions of the foot, knee, hips, hand, arm, and shoulders.

A Reverse Bucket List?

As we round out the end of 2013 and look onward to what will hopefully be a magnificent 2014 for each and every one of you, perhaps it is time for contemplation of our past achievements. If you could have written a bucket list for all your life experiences, what would you have included? 

Sometimes we look back and feel as though we have done nothing with our lives and forget everything that has brought us to where we are today. So instead of writing New Years resolutions that we usually end up forgetting all about, how about writing a ‘Reverse Bucket List’ for yourself. What have you done in your life so far? What have you accomplished? What are things that make you happy? What are you proud of? What fears have you overcome? What have you done that you never thought possible?

Write a list of all your life’s achievements to date and include things that you might once have written on a bucket list, include the great people you have met, great places you’ve had the opportunity to visit, dreams you once had that you were able to make a reality. Include whatever comes to mind and don’t edit your list as you’re doing so.

Look over your list and feel proud of your efforts and what you have achieved and accomplished. You’ll soon realise you have so much to be grateful for and it will prove what amazing things you can achieve. Let your list inspire you to embrace the challenges and opportunities you are presented with and re-visit your list when you need reminding of the positives in your life or just need a little pick-me-up. 

All the best for a wonderful and joyous new year in 2014. 

Keep calm and get adjusted!

 

 

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“Cheers to a New Year and another chance to get it right” – Oprah Winfrey

Surviving Christmas!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with kids jingle belling and everyone telling you “be of good cheer”…

Christmas holidays are typically the busiest time of the year with Christmas shopping, school functions, end of year parties, family gatherings, even birthdays, so for many it can also be very stressful. It’s a time of year where we don’t mind the over-indulging and allow ourselves to gorge on tasty food and drinks with family and friends. In other words, looking after our bodies is something we don’t tend to focus all that much on.

Here at By Design Chiropractic we want you to enjoy your Christmas and also keep your body functioning at it’s best so we have come up with our top ten tips for surviving these Christmas holidays!

  1. Keep your body moving! Make walking or some of your daily stretching exercises part of a regular routine over the holiday period.
  2. Have your kids leave Father Christmas and his reindeer carrots and apples, rather than cookies and beer! He has a very busy night coming up and eating too many cookies can increase those chemical stressors which affect his vital spine and nervous system!
  3. If you’re lugging big heavy presents around, be mindful of your posture and optimal lifting techniques. Remember, lift from your knees not your hips and hold objects close in to your body.
  4. If taking on those yearly renovations or gardening and it’s not something you normally do, make sure you take it easy and listen to your body. If you have reduced range of motion, pain, stiffness, etc., these may be warning signs of your body functioning incorrectly.
  5. According to Nutrition Australia, Australians put on an average of 0.8-1.5kg every Christmas. This doesn’t mean don’t enjoy your food and drinks, just be mindful of enjoying everything in moderation and try to keep to your normal routine.
  6. Alcohol dehydrates your system and can have negative effects on your health and wellbeing when consumed in big amounts. Make a deal with yourself to not drink more than you normally would if it wasn’t Christmas and balance your alcoholic drinks and soft drinks with a glass of water or herbal tea.
  7. Suffering from anxiety, depression, and stress is very common over the holiday season, even if you don’t normally suffer from these. Take some time out to reflect on your successes of the year, what you have accomplished, what you are proud of, and what has made you happy, and take some time to set yourself goals for the New Year.
  8. Taking some time out for yourself or with your family can have a massively positive impact on your spinal health, so take that trip you’ve been meaning to all year, have a quiet getaway, or spend some time working on your favourite hobby. Make sure you have some down time amongst all the craziness of this time of year.
  9. Get enough sleep! I can’t stress this one enough, if you’re constantly getting less than 6 hours sleep then you are running the risk of wearing your body down. It’s recommended that as adults we get 7-8 hours of sleep a night and the silly season can mess with our sleeping routines. Keep yourself on top of your game by ensuring you get the best sleep.
  10. Lastly – Enjoy Christmas and all the joy it brings to you and your families. Whilst there is a lot of focus on the giving and receiving of gifts, just make the most of the time spent with family and friends.

Remember, we are open over Christmas and the New Year so if you do happen to need a Chiropractor please call By Design Chiropractic on 8391 6638 or visit our clinic at 5B 22 Mann Street, Mount Barker for more information.

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“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness” – Bob Hope

Looking after your spine in the garden

It’s coming up to that time of year when everyone is starting to get a little stressed about Christmas. The sun is beginning to come out and people are also spending a lot more time outside in their gardens. The more time they spend in their gardens though, the more they realise just how much work they still need to do before their entire family descends on them for Christmas lunch. Not only are you worried about food, drinks, how long ago you should have baked the Christmas pudding, whether Uncle Harry will have one too many beers like he always does and hit on your distant cousin visiting from Sweden, or who will drive Great Grandma Ethel home after all is done, but you’re also worried that your garden is beginning to look like a jungle straight out of Africa.

Gardening is a great outdoor activity and can also be great for your health – physical work whilst enjoying the sun and fresh air as well as the opportunity to be creative. However, most of us are not regular gardeners, and just like going all out at the gym in your first session back after 6 months, going gung-ho in the garden for the first time in months can be very stressful both on the spine and on the body.

gardening-back-pain

It’s probably not surprising that many people presenting with low back pain, sciatica, and bulging or herniated discs, particularly in the over 40s, are able to relate their complaint to gardening. According to the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia, 75% of the DIY injuries presenting to the emergency department occur in a residential setting with the majority of those being gardening injuries.

Common postural problems can all be aggravated and even caused by gardening activities due to the bending over and twisting forces which put strain through the spine, and the potential to spend hours hunched over and carrying items. There is some good news though and that is that many of these problems can be avoided by following 10 simple tips.

1. Warm Up/Stretch - We all know that warming up and stretching is important before physical activity and gardening is no different. Take a few minutes to warm up your muscles and joints. Some basic stretches to get you started include hamstrings and hip flexors, quads, knees to chest, and shoulder shrugs, these will have an overall effect on your body and will allow you to move with greater ease and better movement.

2. Maintain Healthy Posture – The constant bending forward while gardening can strain the lower back and can result in serious injuries, so when possible, stay upright with your head in line with your shoulders. If you suffer from chronic back pain, having a garden with hanging pots or elevated planting beds may be the way to go.

3. Pace Yourself – Gardening involves twisting, reaching, straining, and hauling, and is a lot more challenging on the body than most people realise. Plan what you would like to achieve, give yourself plenty of time to complete it, and don’t do too much too quickly!

4. Take Regular Breaks – Take frequent breaks to rehydrate and to stretch your spine, hips, and neck.

5. Long Handled Gardening Tools – In order to minimise the stressful lifting and twisting, utilise rakes, hoes, and shovels to enable you to do as much work upright as possible.

6. Proper Lifting Technique - One of the most common causes of acute injuries is poor lifting. Make sure you bend at the knees and not your hips and allow your thighs to do the hard work when pushing yourself upright, and keep what you are lifting close to your body to keep your centre of gravity over your feet.

7. Alternate Hands and Feet – When digging or raking, use one arm and leg to exert the bulk of the force and then switch to your alternate arm and leg. Maintaining balance will help prevent overexertion and overstraining.

8. Kneel with Knee Pads – There will be moments when you need to do work on the ground, using knee pads or a knee board will reduce the stress on your low back, as well as being a more comfortable option.

9. Pivot when you move heavy objects - In order to avoid disc injuries when you need to lift something from one side of your body and place it down on the other, be sure to pivot and move your feet rather than twisting at the hips. Bending forwards and then twisting is a movement that will increase the pressure in the low back and make you susceptible to disc bulges and herniations, and moving your feet will greatly reduce strain on your lower back.

10. Use a wheelbarrow - Dirt, soil, bricks, and plants can all be extremely heavy. Be sensible and plan ahead if you need to do heavy work – a good wheelbarrow is designed to help you move heavy objects easily taking the strain out of lifting and carrying.

LadyGardeningFor many of us, gardening is a very pleasurable hobby. To ensure you can continue pain-free for many years to come make sure you use these tips.

For more information about postural problems as well as tips to address them, contact By Design Chiropractic today.

About Dr Belinda Webber

Dr Belinda is a chiropractor in Mt Barker, SA, and can be reached through www.bydesignchiropractic.com.au. She has a background in sports chiropractic and exercise physiology. Beyond spinal correction to you keep you functioning at your best, Dr Belinda also assesses and analyses conditions of the foot, knee, hips, hand, arm, and shoulders.

Why that pain in your arms or legs could be coming from your back..

Pain in your arms and legs can be distracting, like that pain in your shoulder that just doesn’t want to go away or that pain in your buttock radiating down your thigh, or even that recurring hamstring injury you just can’t seem to shake off. Whilst the pain may manifest in your arm or leg (your extremities), often it will actually originate from your spine. 

Let’s focus for a moment on the low back and the legs. All your feeling/sensation and all your motor control of the leg comes from the nerve roots which exit the spine at the lower levels of the lumbar and sacral regions and these nerves extend all the way down to the ends of our toes. When pressure is placed on these nerves, often the feeling we get is what we know as sciatica, which simply put is inflammation of the nerves that exit the low back and run down the legs. This can result in pain in the buttocks, groin, or the leg (usually only on one side and is not uncommon to be felt down as far as the ankle). However pain isn’t always a factor, sometimes the only thing we experience is tingling, numbness, pins and needles, weakness, or burning sensations. 

This also helps to explain chronically recurring hamstring injuries. The nerves that innervate the hamstrings exit the low back at similar levels in the lumbar spine, so if there is pressure being placed on those nerves it can result in what feels like a hamstring strain. If this nerve interference isn’t removed (insert chiropractic here) then those hamstrings a. won’t have their full potential to heal, and b. will keep recurring. From this, we can also deduce that hamstring tightness is also relatable to tightness or poor movement of the low back. 

This of course isn’t to say that all nerve interference occurs at a spinal level. Nerves can be compressed by bones, discs, or muscles and can be compressed at any point along the kinetic chain (the chain of movement between your neck-shoulder-elbow-wrist-hand-fingers, or your low back-pelvis-hips-knees-ankles-foot-toes, for example). The goal is therefore to figure out exactly what is creating the problem and to find where the impingement is happening.

In much the same way, all your motor and sensory loops in your arm are innervated at a spinal level from the cervical and upper thoracic regions. When a signal is sent down a nerve that has been irritated, it can cause similar symptoms to what you might feel in your legs – pain, numbness and tingling, weakness, burning, etc. This is why when you are experiencing pain in the bottom of your neck it’s also common to feel sore in your shoulders or feel like you have a weaker grip in your hands. As said above though this can also be a local issue, for example with carpal tunnel where the nerves are impinged upon in the wrist and hand, and again it’s a matter of figuring out where the problem is. 

Chiropractic can help arm and leg pain by removing interference to the nerves at all levels of the kinetic chain. By adjusting the spine we remove the nerve interference and just like switching the power back on in your home, we can get your nervous system working again like it was intended. Once we have identified the cause of your subluxation (nerve interference/compression), we can get you back out there doing what you love to do best, whether that be gardening, playing football, running a marathon, or simply playing with your kids. Chiropractic care is one of the best and most effective choices for your arm or leg pain.

 

About Dr Belinda Webber

Dr Belinda is a chiropractor in Mt Barker, SA, and can be reached through www.bydesignchiropractic.com.au. She has a background in sports chiropractic and exercise physiology. Beyond spinal correction to you keep you functioning at your best, Dr Belinda also assesses and analyses conditions of the foot, knee, hips, hand, arm, and shoulders.

How to Run and Avoid Those Dreaded Injuries

“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savour the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.” – Dean Karnazes, author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner.

As the sun begins to come out we tend to see a lot more people getting out and going running. How often is it you see people running in parks, on the beach, along the streets, even in the bush and through the hills. If done correctly, the benefit it can have on our cardiovascular health and fat burning can be phenomenal, however, if done poorly it can bring with it a whole world of hurt and can be down right frustrating, and I know, because I am one of them – whenever I think of running all I can think is “how much are my shins, calves, feet going to hurt this time?”. Running is something we all take for granted, and we all think we can just get out and do it. For those who watch How I Met Your Mother, remember when Barney ran the New York Marathon and couldn’t get off the subway because he couldn’t move his legs?

Running is one of those exercises that you either love or you hate, and when you hate it, it’s easy to look at others and wonder why they were built to run and make it look so effortless, whereas you feel like a disaster waiting to happen. Usually this is a result of one or a combination of the following:

  • Out of shape – it is estimated that for every extra kilo you put on, it’s approximately an extra 10 kilos that your knees are feeling
  • Poor biomechanics such as over-pronation of the feet or poor landing
  • Lack of mobility of the spine – Enter Chiropractic here
  • Tightness in muscles due to poor stretching technique or lacking certain nutrients in the body, such as water and magnesium

It is estimated that 30% of runners experience injuries every year, many of which arise in the foot or lower leg. That’s a lot of injuries for such a seemingly simple exercise that we all grew up doing. These injuries can keep you out of action for weeks, months, or even permanently, and the vast majority of these injuries will be caused by poor running technique, most commonly relating to heel-strike.

Why does foot strike matter? Well, simply put, a runner is better able to avoid a large impact force when landing on the forefoot or mid foot. In heel striking, a significant, almost instantaneous, large force sends a shock wave up through the skeletal system and through the body when the heel makes contact with the ground. When forefoot or mid foot striking, this impact force becomes very minimal with little or no impact transient. In his research (which can be found at barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu), Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, found that forefoot or mid foot strike can help avoid and/or mitigate repetitive stress injuries, especially stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and runner’s knee.

If you’re one of the unlucky ones who experiences injuries from running, they are commonly on of these:

  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures of the tibia and neck of the femur
  • Heel pain
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Iliotibial Band syndrome
  • Lower back pain
  • Knee injuries such as runner’s knee or patellofemoral tracking syndrome
  • Early onset of arthritis/degeneration of the joint from increased impact/shock

“With 200,000 nerve endings, 33 major muscles, 28 bones, 19 ligaments; the human foot is a biomechanical masterpiece.” – Lee Saxby, expert running coach

Barefoot running is a running technique that until recently has been rather unknown, with a common misconception over the last 40 or so years that cushioned, padded sneakers are better. It is now widely accepted that barefoot running is much better suited for running long distances and modern, heavily cushioned, high-heeled running shoes are not required. Running barefoot will also naturally encourage a more mid foot strike and will lead to improved running technique with less impact on the ankles, knees, and hips. For more information on barefoot running, I encourage you to read the information on the Vivobarefoot website.

If you are running in the “traditional” sneaker, it has been said that you should wait 30 hours between uses as it takes this long for the shoe to regain it’s shock absorption ability. It has also been suggested that your runner should be changed every 800-1000km for the average sized individual, however this can be as often as 400-500km if you are a heel striker.

Points to consider when running:

  • Let gravity do the work – lean forward slightly and let this propel your body
  • Foot strike should be directly under the hip joint
  • Forefoot or mid foot strike should be achieved with a slightly flexed knee joint
  • Knees should bend to 90 degrees once the the foot leaves the ground
  • Hands do not cross the midline and bend at the elbow to chest height
  • Hands do not go beyond the hip and are relaxed like holding a piece of paper
  • Shoulders are relaxed
  • Eyes should be looking ahead 20-30 metres
  • Propulsion should come from hip extension which is optimal use of our gluteus maximus muscle.

It is normal to experience some muscle soreness in certain muscles after running and if form and biomechanics is good, then the area of soreness should indicate how your technique is and what needs to improve.

  • Quadriceps – often sore with over-striding
  • Shins – most commonly means you are a heel striker and have tightness of both the shin and calf muscles
  • Calf/Achilles – overloading of the flexor hallucis longus (big toe muscle), also can be due to dehydration
  • Iliotibial Band (ITB) – legs are normally too straight when running downhill, can also be related to excessive pronation of the foot or to knee imbalances
  • Hamstrings – usually indicates weak gluteal muscles or gluteal muscles not switching on when running
  • Gluteals – this is the ideal soreness when running, you want to know they are switched on and firing, helping to achieve a highly functional closed kinematic chain between the hip and foot and reduced stress of all lower limb joints and muscles. Gluteal muscles can become disengaged for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is due to excessive sitting, and overactive hamstrings.

 

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About Dr Belinda Webber

Dr Belinda is a chiropractor in Mt Barker, SA, and can be reached through www.bydesignchiropractic.com.au. She has a background in sports chiropractic and exercise physiology. Beyond spinal correction to you keep you functioning at your best, Dr Belinda assesses and analyses conditions of the foot, knee, hips, hand, arm, and shoulders of athletes.

If you have a body, you are an athlete!

How to avoid back pain when exercising

Have you ever had back pain that has made bending over and getting out of bed seem unbearable? Or maybe you’ve had back pain that has made breathing, sitting, or standing intolerable. Often times these injuries occur to people who don’t exercise, however, crippling back pain is not uncommon to those who exercise regularly. Injuries can derail your goals, and the best way to stay in the gym exercising is to learn how to avoid such injuries.

Back injuries tend to occur most commonly in the lower back (lumbar spine region), and is one of the more common injuries to affect people who lift weights. The discomfort associated with back pain can vary from mild and occasional twinges to chronic long lasting pain to persistent and intense pain. There can be many causes including muscle strain, disc damage, degenerative disorder, or simply wear and tear as we get older, as well as possible causes such as poor posture, incorrect lifting technique, and carrying extra weight in the abominal region.

On the rare occasion, back pain can be part of a more serious issue. Back pain that involves weakness or numbness can be a serious concern, and if your pain involves any loss of bowel or bladder function then it is considered a medical emergency. Back pain in children that is persistent can also be concerning in some cases. Most commonly, back pain in children arises from poor posture or incorrectly worn/fitted school bags, but it can be a sign of scoliosis and, in the extreme case, tumours.

For most cases of back pain though, particularly when it’s related to exercise, the cause is derived from muscle or ligament dysfunction. Improving the strength of your core will work to stabilise and brace the spine resulting in a reduced risk of injury and is also beneficial for those with a pre-existing back injury as it can aid in rehabilitation.

Sometimes the pain that we feel may be originating from the opposite side to where we feel it, therefore it is important to improve the strength of your core muscles in order to prevent back pain. For example, when we sit for long periods of time we are sitting with our iliopsoas muscles (hip flexors) in a shortened position, over time effectively shortening the muscle, and our bodies are very good at adapting to what we give them each day. When you stand up these muscles can cause severe pain as they effectively pull your low back (lumbar region) forward. Similarly, if you have a strong core it will not only hold your insides in, but will also stabilise your spine, vertebrae, and discs, and many people have been able to completely eliminate back pain purely by developing stronger abdominal muscles.

If you are looking to train safely and keep a healthy back then it is important to build your core to balance the forces placed on the spine. To do this you need to work antagonistic muscle groups (opposite muscles). These muscles include the obliques, tranversus, rectus, and psoas muscles in the abdomen, and quadratus lumborum and paraspinals in the back.

For people with degenerative disc disease, doing weightlifting exercises that increase axial load (weight in line with the spine) can make pain worse and are contraindicated. These exercises include leg press (as opposed to squats), deadlifts, military presses, and lunges with weight placed on the shoulders.

The health of your back can also be affected by carrying excess weight distributed across the abdomen in front of the spine as it can affect the alignment. You may start to lean forward too much, and to compensate, begin to “hyperlordose” (increase the lumbar curvature of) your spine, resulting in swayback. Extra weight can also overload the discs and the facets, much like the way an overloaded car will cause its tyres to bulge and thereby increase wear and tear on the shock absorbers.

An important thing to remember is that poor lifting technique can really upset things in your low back, especially when using higher weights, so if you start to feel back pain, the best recommendation is to lower the weight and increase the number of reps.

So, here are 10 great tips for how you can maintain a healthy back and avoid injury.

  1. Get adjusted!! – having a healthy spine will improve muscle function, spinal posture, and proprioception (where your body is in space), as well as maintaining a healthy nervous system. Need more reasons? Read my post on why your gym results will improve with chiropractic care.
  2. Get moving – Exercise regularly, maintain a healthy body weight, keep your body well conditioned, and avoid living a sedentary lifestyle. Sounds so easy, right?
  3. Quit smoking – Nicotine alters the chemical structure of the intervertebral discs and make them prone to dehydration, therefore make them brittle and more vulnerable to tearing. As if you needed another reason to stop smoking..
  4. Maintain good posture and take regular breaks if sitting for long periods – Read my post on how sitting is affecting your health
  5. Be aware of where you use your laptop – one of the most common causes of low back pain in teenagers who come into my practice is related to the use of their laptop, particularly using one while sitting on their bed. Sitting on the bed offers no support for the lumbar spine and can cause changes in the axial loading of the spine, altering lumbar curvature and associated muscle function.
  6. Work your entire core region – to ensure total core health, exercise your abdominals in conjunction with building strength in the low back. Combine flexion (forward bending) movements with extension (backward) movements.
  7. Observe your sleeping position – The ultimate sleeping position is to sleep on your side with your knees and hips flexed. Placing a pillow between your knees will also help to take pressure off the hips. The worst sleeping position is to sleep on your tummy as it increases the spinal curve and may cause strain, particularly in the neck as the head is turned to one side.
  8. Never ignore your pain – If you feel pain with any exercise, stop! The best thing to do is to go home and ice to reduce the production of inflammation, and make an appointment to see your chiropractor!
  9. Continue moving to speed the healing process – if you are able to, keep the area stimulated with light exercise, such as swimming or walking.
  10. Avoid contraindicated exercises – Whilst exercise is the perfect way to strengthen the back and aid in the healing process, some moves should be avoided if you are suffering from back pain. As well as those mentioned above, military presses and lunges should be avoided as they axially load the spinal column and compress the spine from the head area. Running can also be risky if you have poor technique due to the impact shock travelling up the body during heel strike.

What is your child’s spinal health worth to you?

 “If people are not bringing their children in to see you, either they hate their children, or they don’t understand chiropractic.” – Reggie Gold

The other day I had a friend write to me and ask if I could give her any information about kids and chiropractic, they’re having a lot of trouble with their bub (who I think is about 6 months old now) and the doctor says there is nothing physically wrong and they’ve tried everything else….but her husband is anti-chiropractic. Can I help?! – For the chiros out there who read my blog, isn’t this something we hear so often with new patients “well I’ve tried everything else so I figured I might as well give this a go, nothing else has worked.”

Automatically, I went sure, head over to the Well Adjusted Babies website and you’ll find plenty of information there! Then I realised I may have missed the opportunity to really communicate the message about why it’s so important for children to have their spine checked, and what we can do to not only improve the life of a child, but also the parents who are sometimes at their wits end not knowing what to do. They’re tired, they’re cranky, they’re moody….and that’s just the Dad!

One of the biggest misconceptions about chiropractic and kids, I find, is that it’s assumed the same type of adjustments that are given to adults are going to be used on their baby, and this just isn’t the case. A child’s skeletal system is still developing and the elasticity within the joints is much greater than that of an adult. In children under two years of age the bones haven’t even completely calcified yet and are still cartilaginous bodies. Because of this elasticity, to adjust a young child’s spine only a light pressure is needed. Have a go yourself, put your finger on your eyeball and press gently, what you can comfortably withstand is about the equivalent of how much pressure is being used on your child.

One of the other questions I get asked a lot when the conversation of chiropractic and kids comes up is “why do kids need to see a chiropractor?” Well here’s my answer. In utero a child spends 9 months in a restricted space sometimes with movement restrictions, awkward positioning, or even exposure to irritants and toxins – imagine for a moment how your spine would feel if you were to sit in a cardboard box for 9 months! Then comes the birthing process which is when the first heavy stress is placed on a child’s spinal column. Sometimes there are also birthing complications – time spent in labour, emergency caesareans, forceps and vaccums..Then the child starts to sit and crawl and starts to stand and walk. They start to take knocks and have falls. Children start to develop their own unique relationship with the world and form their attitudes towards their health and their bodies, they start to form immunity, and most importantly, their brains are developing faster than they ever will during any other course of their lifetime. All these things are affected by whether or not you have a clear and healthy nervous system, and whether the “power” is switched on to it’s full potential.

Did you know that 95% of infants have misalignments after birth? Did you know that 26% of school aged children report a history of back pain? Many adults that see a chiropractor show evidence of injuries sustained in childhood that are a contributing factor for their pain right now. As chiropractors we are trained to deal with the nervous system and brain function, and chiropractic is the only profession that specifically deals with and creates a clear neurological system in the body. We don’t treat colic or ear infections, we don’t cure asthma, we don’t treat reflux – what we do is we remove interference to the nervous system which allows the body to heal itself and thereby express health and express life.

You might still be thinking that the idea of taking your child to a chiropractor is completely wack and doesn’t make sense unless something is “wrong”, however early detection of nerve interference in children can prevent the “something wrong” from occurring at all. It’s much easier to support a child growing up than it is to fix 20, 30, 40 years of scrapes, falls, injuries, and accidents. The few minutes you invest in your child’s spinal check-up may save them needless suffering now and in the future.

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To finish off, here are ten reasons parents take their children to see a chiropractor: (from http://welladjustedbabies.com/why-parents-take-children-to-chiropractors/)

  1. Brain and nerve development
  2. Health and wellbeing
  3. Immune system
  4. Colic and irritable baby syndrome
  5. Asthma, breathing difficulties, and allergies
  6. Spinal posture
  7. Concentration
  8. Behavioural disorders
  9. Digestive problems
  10. Bed-wetting and sleep issues

Look after your child’s future.

Keep calm and get adjusted!

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