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Posture

Back Clinic Posture Team. Posture is the position in which an individual holds their body upright against gravity while standing, sitting, or lying down. A proper posture visually reflects an individual’s health, ensuring the joints and muscles, as well as other structures of the body, are working properly. Throughout a collection of articles, Dr. Alex Jimenez identifies the most common effects of improper posture as he specifies the recommended actions an individual should take to improve their stance as well as enhance their overall health and wellness. Sitting or standing incorrectly can happen unconsciously, but recognizing the issue and correcting it can ultimately help many individuals develop healthier lifestyles. For more information, please feel free to contact us at (915) 850-0900 or text to call Dr. Jimenez personally at (915) 850-0900.


Rounded Shoulders Functional Chiropractic Back Clinic

Rounded Shoulders Functional Chiropractic Back Clinic

Look how young children position their backs. There is a natural S curve, and their movements are effortless. As the body ages, too much sitting, slouching, and inactivity can cause muscle fatigue and tension leading to posture issues. Rounded shoulders describe a resting position that has shifted the shoulders out of the body’s natural alignment, which can worsen if left untreated. Chiropractic care can realign the shoulders, as well as the spine, and restore musculoskeletal health to optimum levels.Rounded Shoulders Functional Chiropractor

Rounded Shoulders

Rounded shoulders are an excessive thoracic kyphosis referring to an uneven forward rounding or curvature of the middle and upper back. Rounded shoulders shift out of proper alignment with the spine, causing posture-related problems like shoulder/neck/back discomfort, tightness, stiffness, and pain. Overall unhealthy posture contributes to the following:

  • The head constantly being in a forward or backward position
  • Headaches
  • Body aches and pains
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Chronic back soreness
  • Bent knees when standing or walking
  • Body movement dysfunction
  • Joint problems
  • Potbelly
  • Rounded shoulders

Body responses to rounded shoulders include:

  • Chronic musculoskeletal aches and pains
  • Breathing problems
  • Limited body function
  • Impaired mobility performance
  • Increased mental and musculoskeletal stress

Causes

Rounded shoulders are typically caused by unhealthy posture, but can also be caused by muscle imbalances from, for example, overfocusing on building chest strength but neglecting the core and upper back. Other causes include:

  • Standing and sitting for long periods
  • Stress
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Environmental factors
  • Too much exercise, sports, and physical activities

Musculoskeletal Imbalance

Postural imbalances anywhere in the body can cause rounded shoulders.

  • For example, when an individual tilts their head forward to look at their phone, the upper back has to round forward to hold the head. Constantly tilting can begin to generate an unhealthy muscle memory causing the neck and shoulder muscles to remain in a semi-flexed position that starts to become the norm.
  • Another example is when the arms are held out and in front for prolonged periods, like driving, typing, and cooking, the chest muscles get shortened. As time goes on, this causes the shoulder blades to move forward on the ribcage, making the upper back and shoulder area hunch awkwardly and unhealthily.

Stress

When the brain perceives a threat, the body physically prepares to take action through the fight or flight response. Common reactions include:

  • Jaw tensing
  • Tightening the abdominal muscles
  • Holding one’s breath
  • Rounding the shoulders

Stressors can include:

  • Job worries
  • Money issues
  • Relationship problems
  • Family responsibilities
  • All can cause changes in the body that result in rounded shoulders.

Environmental Factors

  • Respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD, and allergies can affect the body’s breathing and the ability of the diaphragm to contract and relax correctly.
  • Ribcage restrictions caused by chronic breathing problems can result in the thoracic/middle back tightening up, causing excessive shoulder rounding.

Exercise and Physical Activities

  • Exercise and physical activities can contribute to rounded shoulders because of the long periods of spinal flexion. These can include:
  • Bike riding, martial arts, and swimming.
  • Knitting requires the arms to be out in front.
  • Gardening requires kneeling and being hunched over.

Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic adjustments, therapeutic massage, and decompression therapy can unlock tight shoulder and chest muscles. A chiropractor uses gentle targeted adjustments to relieve pain, restore function, and retrain the muscles.

  • The doctor will look at the individual’s resting position while standing.
  • An individual with slumped shoulders can slouch, even when standing up straight.
  • Their hands will likely face behind them, with their thumbs pointed at each other.
  • Once the adjustments are made, a correct standing posture will make the hands face the body with the thumbs facing ahead.
  • Exercises will be recommended to strengthen the core and stretches to maintain the adjustments.

Posture Chiropractic


References

Fathollahnejad, Kiana, et al. “The effect of manual therapy and stabilizing exercises on forward head and rounded shoulder postures: a six-week intervention with a one-month follow-up study.” BMC musculoskeletal disorders vol. 20,1 86. 18 Feb. 2019, doi:10.1186/s12891-019-2438-y

Go, Seong-Uk, and Byoung-Hee Lee. “Effects of scapular stability exercise on shoulder stability and rehabilitative ultrasound images in office workers.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 28,11 (2016): 2999-3002. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.2999

Kwon, Jung Won, et al. “Changes in upper-extremity muscle activities due to head position in subjects with a forward head posture and rounded shoulders.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 27,6 (2015): 1739-42. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.1739

Lee, Do Youn, et al. “Changes in rounded shoulder and forward head posture according to exercise methods.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 29,10 (2017): 1824-1827. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1824

Park, Sang-In, et al. “Effects of shoulder stabilization exercise on pain and functional recovery of shoulder impingement syndrome patients.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 25,11 (2013): 1359-62. doi:10.1589/jpts.25.1359

Healthy Driving Posture: Back Clinic Chiropractic

Healthy Driving Posture: Back Clinic Chiropractic

The body is designed to move. For individuals who spend a significant amount of time driving each day, whether for a living or a long commute, over time can lead to headaches, neck and back pain, sciatica, and increases the risk for serious injury. Chiropractic can retrain individuals to practice healthy driving posture. This is accomplished through decompression and massage therapy combined with recommended stretches/exercises, and an anti-inflammatory diet will bring pain relief and help prevent injury.

Healthy Driving Posture Chiropractor

Healthy Driving Posture

Two main reasons driving impacts the back are poor posture and being in a fixed position for an extended period. Individuals who regularly drive for more than 4 hours a day are more at risk. An unhealthy driving posture can lead to an increased risk of discomfort/pain in the:

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Wrists
  • Fingers
  • Back
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Over time these issues can become chronic, making the body vulnerable to various injuries.

Back Pain Symptoms

Sometimes back pain needs immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms present:

  • Inflammation in the back.
  • Swelling on the back.
  • Constant pain does not go away or ease up after resting or movement.
  • Pain in the upper back that radiates to the chest.
  • A high temperature.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Numbness or tingling around the buttocks or groin area.

Driving Recommendations

Spine Support

  • Slide the tailbone as close to the back of the seat as possible.
  • Leave a gap between the back of the knees and the front of the seat.
  • If the vehicle doesn’t allow for the proper position, a back support cushion can help.

Raise The Hips

  • If possible, adjust the area you sit on, so the thighs are supported along their entire length.
  • The knees should be slightly lower than the hips.
  • This will increase circulation to the back muscles while opening up the hips.

Sitting Too Close

  • An individual should be able to comfortably reach the pedals and depress them through their full range with the entire foot.
  • A safety study found that drivers whose chests were closer to the wheel were significantly more likely to suffer head, neck, and chest injuries in front and rear-end collisions.

Proper Height

  • Ensure the seat raises the eye level a few inches above the steering wheel to allow sufficient clearance between the head and roof.

Seat Angle

  • The angle of the back of the seat should go a little beyond 90 degrees to 100-110 degrees places minimal pressure on the back.
  • Leaning too far back forces the individual to raise/push their head and neck forward, which can cause neck pain, shoulder pain, and tingling in the fingers.

Headrest Height

  • The top of the headrest should be between the top of the ears and the top of the head.
  • It should slightly touch the back of the head when sitting with a healthy driving posture.
  • The headrest is vital in reducing whiplash injuries in the event of a rear-end collision.

Mirror Adjustments

  • Ensure the rear-view and side mirrors are correctly adjusted will prevent straining the neck.
  • Individuals should be able to see the traffic behind them without having to crane their necks.

Be Sure To Take Breaks

  • Even with a healthy driving posture, fatigue can and will set in.
  • Listen to your body and take breaks.
  • Park in a safe place at a rest stop or designated area to get out of the vehicle, move around, and stretch.

Driving Posture Exercises

The following exercises can help improve driving posture and prevent pain while making deliveries or transporting people.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

This exercise helps reduce pressure on the neck and shoulders.

  • Bring the shoulder blades back and up with the hands on the steering wheel.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together in the middle of the back.
  • Hold for 3 seconds, then release.
  • Repeat ten times.

Seated Pelvic Tilt

This exercise activates the abdominal and external oblique muscles.

  • Press the lower back into the car seat.
  • Inhale and tilt the pelvis forward to create an arch in the lower back.
  • Hold for 3 seconds, then release.
  • Repeat ten times.

Posture is more than just how one carries themselves. The effects of unhealthy posture can carry over into an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Whether it’s caused by injury, stress, work, or sports, a professional chiropractor will help you get back to optimal health.


Driving Position


References

Cvetkovic, Marko M et al. “Assessing Post-Driving Discomfort and Its Influence on Gait Patterns.” Sensors (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 21,24 8492. 20 Dec. 2021, doi:10.3390/s21248492

Pope, Malcolm H et al. “Spine ergonomics.” Annual review of biomedical engineering vol. 4 (2002): 49-68. doi:10.1146/annurev.bioeng.4.092101.122107

Tinitali, Sarah, et al. “Sitting Posture During Occupational Driving Causes Low Back Pain; Evidence-Based Position or Dogma? A Systematic Review.” Human factors vol. 63,1 (2021): 111-123. doi:10.1177/0018720819871730

van Veen, Sigrid, and Peter Vink. “Posture variation in a car within the restrictions of the driving task.” Work (Reading, Mass.) vol. 54,4 (2016): 887-94. doi:10.3233/WOR-162359

Children’s Postural Health Back Clinic

Children’s Postural Health Back Clinic

Practicing improper/unhealthy postures throughout the day can severely fatigue the mind and body. Children’s postural health is vital to their overall health and energy levels to perform tasks, school work, and play. An unhealthy posture causes the body to lose its ability to dissipate forces evenly and correctly. Symptoms like soreness, pain, tightness, and irritability can begin to present, which is the body’s way of letting the individual know something is off. When the body is in proper alignment, the spine disperses body weight correctly and efficiently. Chiropractic adjustments can effectively counter the unhealthy posture effects, and simple postural exercises can strengthen the body, increasing healthy posture habits.

Children's Postural Health Chiropractor

Children’s Posture Health

Healthy posture is more than simply sitting and standing up straight. It is how the body is positioned, meaning the head, spine, and shoulders, and how it moves unconsciously like a walking gait. An uneven gait or awkward body position can indicate a problem and cause long-term consequences to a child’s health.

Challenges

Kids and children are constantly hunched, slumped, and slouched over device screens. This constant awkward positioning adds weight to the spine, increasing the pressure, which can cause issues ranging from headaches, mild neck pain, low back pain, and sciatica. Severe health effects from poor posture include:

  • Shoulder problems.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Difficulty breathing from prolonged hunching-over.
  • Spinal joint degeneration.
  • Vertebral compression fractures.

Poor alignment of the muscles begins to restrict postural muscles from relaxing correctly, making the muscles stay stretched or slightly flexed, causing strain and pain. As a child’s body grows, practicing unhealthy postures can drive continued awkward positioning, abnormal spine growth, and an increased risk for arthritis later in life.

Chiropractic Adjustments

A chiropractor will check for any imbalances, like a hunched back, one shoulder higher than the other, or a pelvic tilt/shift. Through a series of adjustments, chiropractic releases the muscles, relieves pressure on ligaments, allows the postural muscles to relax and realign to their proper position, prevents further muscle overuse, strain, abnormal joint wear, and helps reduce fatigue by conserving/utilizing energy as the muscles are functioning correctly and efficiently.

Exercises

Simple postural exercises can help maintain children’s postural health.

Triangle Stretch

  • Standing, spread the legs into an A shape shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend and stretch to one side.
  • Raise the opposite arm of the side, bending straight above the head, so the bicep touches the ear.

Arm Circles

  • Raise the arms above the head.
  • Elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  • Make small circles forward and backward ten times.

Cobra Pose

  • Lay flat on the floor.
  • Place hands next to the chest so that they are underneath the shoulders.
  • Gently press the chest upward.
  • Keeping the legs on the ground.
  • Look straight ahead.

They only take a few minutes, but the objective is consistency. Doing the poses for one week won’t immediately change unhealthy posture habits. It is developing consistent healthy postural habits that generate improvement. They should be done at least three times weekly to build strength and endurance.


Kids and Chiropractic


References

Achar, Suraj, and Jarrod Yamanaka. “Back Pain in Children and Adolescents.” American family physician vol. 102,1 (2020): 19-28.

Baroni, Marina Pegoraro, et al. “Factors associated with scoliosis in schoolchildren: a cross-sectional population-based study.” Journal of epidemiology vol. 25,3 (2015): 212-20. doi:10.2188/jea.JE20140061

da Rosa, Bruna Nichele et al. “Back Pain and Body Posture Evaluation Instrument for Children and Adolescents (BackPEI-CA): Expansion, Content Validation, and Reliability.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 19,3 1398. 27 Jan. 2022, doi:10.3390/ijerph19031398

King, H A. “Back pain in children.” Pediatric clinics of North America vol. 31,5 (1984): 1083-95. doi:10.1016/s0031-3955(16)34685-5

Dancing For Your Health & Wellness

Dancing For Your Health & Wellness

Introduction

Everyone is trying to find what exercise works for them as they start looking for ways to improve their health and wellness. Many individuals who begin to work out would go with finding a personal trainer or a gym that helps incorporate muscle strength training and cardio training to improve their heart and lung capacity to make the body feel good while strengthening their muscles. One of the unique forms of exercise that involve both the heart and muscles is dancing. Dancing is a great way to not only improve musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health but can help reduce overlapping conditions that a person is dealing with in their bodies. Today’s article looks at how dancing helps with musculoskeletal health, affects the heart and brain, and how chiropractic care goes hand in hand with dancing. We refer patients to certified providers specializing in musculoskeletal and cardiovascular therapies to help those with heart and muscle issues. We also guide our patients by referring to our associated medical providers based on their examination when it’s appropriate. We find that education is the solution to asking our providers insightful questions. Dr. Alex Jimenez DC provides this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer

03 Minich Nutrition in CVD

 

Dancing For Musculoskeletal Health

 

Have you ever noticed people take a cardio class with music playing in the background and see them happy afterward? How do athletes incorporate cardio into their exercise regime to improve their mobility and flexibility? Or how do particular video games make you get up and move around? All these scenarios imply that cardio exercises like dancing may help improve musculoskeletal function. Dancing is one of the many aerobic exercises that can help improve a person’s social skills and is something that can be taken up early while providing many beneficial qualities like:

  • Increase strength
  • Improve gait and balance
  • Reduce functional loss
  • Reducing the risk of falls
  • Rehabilitating musculoskeletal injuries
  • Stabilize core muscles

For the musculoskeletal system, dance would be considered an isometric exercise involving different muscle groups like the hips, shoulders, back, and abdominals without using the joints. When a person is dancing, each of the various movements is related to strengthening the core muscles by working thoroughly with the abdominals. Dance can even help improve posture by maintaining strength and enhancing stability in the body. Studies reveal that dance’s impact on individuals with chronic issues like Parkinson’s disease associated with motor and non-motor symptoms can increase their quality of life. So what does that mean? It means that dancing, even for just one song, can help with movement and foster balance, flexibility, and muscle endurance through repeated tasks while associating with accessible, social, and attractive aspects of a person’s physical abilities.

 

How Does Dancing Affect The Heart and Brain?

Dancing not only helps with musculoskeletal issues, but it can help improve brain and heart function in the body. Studies reveal that moderate-intensity dancing was inversely associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease mortality. What dancing does to the heart is that it makes the body intake more oxygen to the lungs, which relates to the heart beating faster and circulating the blood to be transported throughout the entire body. But how does dancing correlate to brain health? Let’s look at dance fitness classes, like Zumba, and use it as an example. Studies show that dance fitness classes provide several health benefits that could reduce mood disorders like depression and anxiety while improving cognitive skills. This means that dance fitness classes like Zumba do repetitive movements to the beat of the music that engages the individual to repeat the steps while having fun. When the muscles begin to do repetitive movements, this motor function sends the signal to the brain, making the person remember the movements later, known as muscle memory. When an individual suffers from neurological disorders like dementia or Alzheimers, dancing could potentially be involved with music therapy, allowing the individual to reduce the risk of developing neurological disorders from progressing further.


How Does The Body React To Dancing?-Video

Have you felt terrific after listening to a good song? How about feeling like you just had a workout? Or have you noticed certain areas in your body like your abdominals, legs, and back looked more toned? All these are beneficial signs that you should add dancing to your regime. The video explains what happens to the body when people are dancing. Dancing could potentially be a mediator for many athletes that play sports.

 

 

An example would be football and ballet. How do football and ballet relate to each other? Football utilizes efficient and precise movements that benefit every position on the field, while ballet requires speed to make them flawless on stage. Combining the two, many football players will increase their speed and agility associated with ballet to avoid tackles, jump higher, catch passes and avoid injuries on the field. Dancing is an excellent way to get some cardio exercises in, and combined with other treatments can make a difference in a person.


Chiropractic Care & Dancing

 

Like all athletic individuals, professional dancers utilize various treatments to recover and improve their performance. Treatments like chiropractic care are safe, effective, and widely used by young and professional athletes that want to prevent injuries from progressing. Chiropractic care for professional athletes and the general population can help prevent and treat injuries like back and neck pain or aggravating conditions like sciatica through spinal manipulation. Chiropractic care also helps restore an individual’s original well-being while increasing their strength, flexibility, and mobility. By working with an experienced chiropractor, an individual can regain their stamina by adopting new ways to prevent injuries caused by spinal complications from reoccurring in the body.

 

Conclusion

Dancing for 30 minutes to an hour can be used as part of an exercise regime and could potentially reduce chronic issues that affect the body’s brain, heart, and muscles. Dancing could also enhance a sports athlete’s performance by increasing their agility, endurance, and performance. Combined with chiropractic care, individuals will begin to see improvements in their range of motion, flexibility, and even an increase in their brain function to dance longer and improve their health and wellness. So whether you are a professional or not, dancing is for everyone.

 

Reference

Barranco-Ruiz, Yaira, et al. “Dance Fitness Classes Improve the Health-Related Quality of Life in Sedentary Women.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, MDPI, 26 May 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7312518/.

Ferchak, Dawn. “Belly Dance Your Back Pain Away – Spineuniverse.” Spine Universe, 14 Oct. 2020, www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/exercise/belly-dance-back-pain.

Gyrling, Therese, et al. “The Impact of Dance Activities on the Health of Persons with Parkinson’s Disease in Sweden.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being, Taylor & Francis, Dec. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8547839/.

Merom, Dafna, et al. “Dancing Participation and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality: A Pooled Analysis of 11 Population-Based British Cohorts.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26944521/.

Disclaimer

Rib Misalignment, Dysfunction, and Pain: Chiropractic Clinic

Rib Misalignment, Dysfunction, and Pain: Chiropractic Clinic

The ribs are designed to protect the lungs and heart and assist breathing. Twenty-four ribs start at the shoulders in the thoracic spine region and run down the mid-back covering the front, back, and side of the chest. Almost all ribs are attached in two places, including the spine in the back and the sternum in the front of the chest, by cartilage joints. Trauma, poor posture, intense coughing, sneezing, and heaving are a few factors that can cause mechanical rib dysfunction or rib misalignment.

Rib dysfunction and misalignment are typically caused by unhealthy postures like slumped back and rounded shoulders, weakened posterior muscles, and repetitive stress from work, sports, and intense physical activity. Any ribs can become misaligned, causing dysfunction and stress on the body. A chiropractor can adjust and reset the rib as they do for misaligned and compressed spinal joints.

Rib Misalignment, Dysfunction, Pain Chiropractor

Rib Cage Design

The ribcage is flexible and expands when inhaling. Each rib is attached to the spine by three joints in the back and the breastbone in the front. Breathing is an involuntary reflex that is impossible to avoid movement in these joints. The joints are small but allow flexing, so the ribs rise and fall with each breath. These rib joints can become inflamed from rib misalignment causing movement problems that can restrict breathing.

Rib Misalignment

Rib misalignment symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Difficulty when trying to sit up.
  • Dull, achy, deep pain next to the spine or under the shoulder blade.
  • Unexplained back pain.
  • Pain when moving or walking.
  • Painful sneezing and/or coughing.
  • Tenderness and pain in the front of the chest.
  • The formation of a lump over the affected rib.
  • Swelling and/or bruising in the region.
  • Numbness in nearby or surrounding ribs.
  • Radiating pain from the back to the front and vice versa.
  • Improvement when pressure is applied to the affected rib.

Rib Dysfunction

Up to 50% of emergency room visits for chest pain symptoms result from non-cardiac factors, with the majority being rib misalignment and the muscles and joints around the rib cage becoming irritated/inflamed.

Causes

There can be several reasons for a misaligned rib. The more common causes include:

Unhealthy Postures

  • Unhealthy postures stress the body that can place pressure on the posterior portion of the ribcage.
  • With time, the ribs can start to shift out of alignment.

Physical Activity, Exercise, and Sports

  • Working out intensely can cause the ribs to shift out of position.
  • Weight lifting improperly can cause the body to shift along with the muscles involved not being strong enough to handle the added weight and movement, causing rib misalignment.

Pregnancy

  • As a woman’s body changes, the weight shifts to the front.
  • This can create a downward pull on the rib cage, increasing misalignment risk.

Intense Coughing or Sneezing

  • Excessive or severe coughing, associated with asthma, bronchitis, or pneumonia, can significantly strain the ribcage.
  • Coughing from a common cold can generate stress to cause a rib to dislocate.
  • Sneezing hard can also cause a rib to shift out of place.
  • Illnesses associated with constant coughing and sneezing can increase an individual’s susceptibility to rib misalignment because of the weakened state of the muscles.

Intense Vomiting

  • Vomiting intensely or heaving can cause the condition.
  • Vomiting does not necessarily involve the lungs, but the convulsive action can cause a rib shift/pop out.

Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic can diagnose and treat rib misalignment/dysfunction by using various stretching or massage techniques to loosen the area, making the muscles more flexible, then applying firm pressure to realign the rib back. The treatment plan will include specific stretches, postural exercises, diet, and other recommendations to prevent rib problems.


Spinal Decompression In 90 Seconds


References

Flodine TE, Thomas M. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: Inhaled Rib Dysfunction. [Updated 2021 Aug 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560751/

Jawed, Muzamil. and Bruno Bordoni. “Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: Muscle Energy Procedure – Exhaled Ribs.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 19 February 2022.

Rib somatic dysfunction (417242001); Costal somatic dysfunction (417242001); Somatic dysfunction of rib (417242001) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/medgen/736159

Vemuri, Adithi. and Kiyomi K. Goto. “Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: Counterstrain/FPR Procedure – Thoracic Vertebrae.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 15 November 2021.

A Look Into Pelvic Dysfunction & Lower Abdominal Pain

A Look Into Pelvic Dysfunction & Lower Abdominal Pain

Introduction

The lower half helps stabilize the body and provides movement from the legs and rotation in the hips. The lower abdominal organs help control bowel movement while the muscles allow movement by regulating internal abdominal pressure. Combined with the back muscles, the lower abdomen can keep the body stable while protecting the lumbar section of the spine. When external factors begin to affect the lower back or disrupt the lower abdominal organs, it can trigger different symptoms that correspond to other sections of the body, like knee or leg pain being associated with menstrual cramping in the lower abdominals or even having pelvic pain that is an associated mediator to having constipation. Today’s article looks at pelvic pain, how it affects the lower abdominals, and ways to treat pelvic dysfunction in the body. We refer patients to certified, skilled providers specializing in chiropractic treatments that help those suffering from pelvic pain. We also guide our patients by referring to our associated medical providers based on their examination when it’s appropriate. We find that education is critical for asking insightful questions to our providers. Dr. Alex Jimenez DC provides this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer

 

Can my insurance cover it? Yes, it may. If you are uncertain, here is the link to all the insurance providers we cover. If you have any questions or concerns, please call Dr. Jimenez at 915-850-0900.

Lobzova.NYCOMEC.05.25.2017

How Does Pelvic Pain Occur?

 

Have you suffered from frequent urination or irregular periods? Have you felt excruciating pain when bending down? Or feeling muscle weakness in the lower extremities of the body? Many of these symptoms are correlated to pelvic pain and can trigger different symptoms affecting the body’s lower half. Research studies have mentioned that pelvic pain in its chronic form is a non-cyclic pain located in the pelvis, and the multiple causations can make it difficult to source where the pain is coming from. The overlapping profiles of pelvic pain can be traced through the numerous nerve pathways that are connected to the spine that can become aggravated and become the mediators for pelvic pain. For example, a person having low back pain might experience uncontrollable urinary discharge in their pelvic region. This could be due to the lower sacral nerve root being impaired and causing an overlap of the profiles resulting from mechanical legions to the lumbar spine, thus increasing the risk associated with the pelvis. 

 

How Does It Affect The Lower Abdominals?

The pelvic region ensures that the body’s lower half is stable and protects the lower abdominal organs from disruptive factors like pelvic pain. Research studies have shown that pelvic pain is a relatively common pain associated with comorbidities affecting the body. Some of the various associated symptoms of pelvic pain can cause a correlation to disturbances of the bladder and sexual function in both sexes while also triggering abdominal and low back pain. Additional research studies have found that chronic pelvic pain can cause a correlated issue with PBS or painful bladder syndrome. What PBS does is that it can make a person have a frequent need to urinate and can cause the pelvic muscles to become tense and sensitive. This coincidentally causes the lower sacral nerves to be aggravated and become a mediator for the genital region to be hypersensitive.


Pelvic Pain Overview-Video

Are you feeling stiffness or tenderness in the groin region? How about going to the bathroom constantly? Or have you been experiencing low back pain? Many of these symptoms correlate to pelvic pain and other symptoms associated with the body. The video above overviews pelvic pain and how it affects the body’s lower extremities. The pelvic region consists of lower sacral nerve roots connected to several different nerve pathways that correspond to the primary nerves and provide an extensive neurological connection to the other areas in the pelvis. When mediators cause an increased risk in the pelvic region, the pelvic splanchnic nerves start to trigger muscle dysfunction in the lower abdominal organs. This causes numerous combinations of symptoms and disorders that causes overlapping of profiles in the body. The lower sacral nerve that is aggravated in the pelvic region could be the causation of pelvic and leg pain.


Treatments For Pelvic Dysfunction

 

Since the pelvic region has many nerve roots that are intertwined and connect to the major nerves in the spinal cord, it can become aggravated by accompanying the lower lumbar and upper sacral nerve roots to be impaired. Research studies have found that pelvic pain can cause an overlap in risk profiles that involves either the visceral or somatic system and the encompassed structures that help the nervous system form a causal relationship to the spine and lower extremities. When the nerve roots become irritated and affect the pelvic region, treatments like chiropractic therapy and physical therapy can help relieve the pelvic area and even help alleviate other symptoms. Physical therapy helps strengthen the hip and abdominal muscles from becoming weak and can reduce overlapping pathologies. Chiropractic therapy can help manipulate the L-1 through 5 vertebrae in the lumbar region of the spine, causing low back pain and bladder dysfunction. Research studies have mentioned that spinal manipulation can help reduce lower sacral nerve root compression triggering low back pain associated with leg pain. This overlap of risk profiles may cause pelvic pain affecting the body and causing organ dysfunction.

 

Conclusion

The lower half of the body consists of the lower abdominal organs and the pelvic region that allows bowel movement and keeps the body stable when in motion. When external factors begin to affect the lower back or the lower abdominal organs, it can cause a triggering effect on different sections of the body. Pelvic pain can affect the internal organs in the lower abdominal and pelvic region and cause comorbidities affecting the body’s lower back and bladder function. Treatments that help strengthen the hips and abdominal muscles or manipulate the spine to reduce the encased nerves trapped in the pelvic muscles will provide relief to the body’s lower extremities and improve functionality.

 

References

Browning, J E. “Chiropractic Distractive Decompression in Treating Pelvic Pain and Multiple System Pelvic Organic Dysfunction.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 1989, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2527938/.

Dydyk, Alexander M, and Nishant Gupta. “Chronic Pelvic Pain – Statpearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL), StatPearls Publishing, 11 Nov. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554585/.

Grinberg, Keren, et al. “New Insights about Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS).” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, MDPI, 26 Apr. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7246747/.

Hwang, Sarah K. “Advances in the Treatment of Chronic Pelvic Pain: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Treatment.” Missouri Medicine, Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6143566/.

Lee, Dae Wook, et al. “Chronic Pelvic Pain Arising from Dysfunctional Stabilizing Muscles of the Hip Joint and Pelvis.” The Korean Journal of Pain, The Korean Pain Society, Oct. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5061646/.

Disclaimer

Health Consequences From Poor Posture

Health Consequences From Poor Posture

Posture is the positioning of the body. There are two types of posture. Dynamic posture is how individuals position themselves when moving, like walking, running, or bending to lift an object. And static posture is how individuals position themselves when not in motion, like standing, sitting, or sleeping. Minimal stress is applied to the muscles and joints when practicing healthy posture. High-stress work and school combined with unhealthy body positions can cause health consequences to the spine, extremities, and musculoskeletal imbalances.

Health Consequences From Poor Posture

Health Consequences

Poor postures do not always present with spine or extremity pain right away. This is because individuals will feel discomfort and have the strength and mobility to correct unhealthy/awkward positions and minimize stress. However, eventually, the pain will begin to present as the muscles and joints can only take so much that the ability to correct poor positioning does not matter as there is a developing injury taking place, causing inflammation, letting the body know there is something not right. This often leads to chronic stress and the unnecessary wearing down of the joints to compensate for the unhealthy positions.

Early Signs

Early signs of postural problems can include:

  • Inability to sit or stand for a long time.
  • Stiffness when rising from a chair.
  • Feeling of added physical exhaustion.

Leaving the condition untreated often leads to:

  • Muscle imbalances.
  • Loss of normal flexibility.
  • Discomfort and pain present for no apparent reason.

Unhealthy Posture Symptoms

Symptoms can include:

  • Slouching
  • Rounded shoulders.
  • Potbelly.
  • Bent knees when standing or walking.
  • Muscle fatigue.
  • Aches and pains.
  • Back pain.
  • Headache.

Postural Structure

Poor posture interferes and disrupts several of the body’s posture structures. These include:

  • Nervous system feedback.
  • Muscle strength and length.
  • The static slow-twitch muscle fibers help maintain posture without exerting too much energy and contribute to balance by sensing the body’s position.
  • Static muscle fibers burn energy slowly and can work for a long time without tiring.
  • The fast-twitch or phasic muscle fibers are used for movement and activity. These fibers quickly use up their energy.

Because the phasic fibers have to work overtime instead of the static fibers to maintain the body’s position, muscle fatigue, weakness, and pain begin to set in.

Health

Health consequences can include:

  • Misaligned musculoskeletal system.
  • The advanced wearing of the spine making it fragile and prone to injury.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Decreased flexibility.
  • Joint mobility is affected.
  • Balance issues.
  • Increased risk of falling.
  • Difficulty digesting food.
  • Difficulty breathing.

Chiropractic and Physical Therapy

Chiropractors and physical therapists specialize in evaluating and treating musculoskeletal dysfunctions and disorders, identifying and screening for postural dysfunction. Chiropractic adjustments can be highly effective combined with other treatment modalities like massaging the soft tissues to improve circulation, reduce swelling inflammation, and promote healing. Spinal decompression therapy can help stretch and realign the spine to relieve back and/or leg pain. A customized exercise program will stretch and strengthen the body to maintain a healthy posture. Health coaching combined with dietary management can help with pain and inflammation and strengthen muscles and bones.


DRX9000 Spinal Decompression


References

American Chiropractic Association. Maintaining good posture. acatoday.org/content/posture-power-how-to-correct-your-body-alignment. Accessed Jan. 28, 2019.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Spine basics. orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/spine-basics/. Accessed Jan. 30, 2019.

Bauer BA. Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation. In: Mayo Clinic Guide to Integrative Medicine. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.

Muscolino JE. Posture and the gait cycle. In: Kinesiology: The Skeletal System and Muscle Function. 3rd ed. Elsevier; 2017.

Wang G. Powered traction devices for intervertebral decompression: Health technology assessment update. Washington Department of Labor and Industries, June 14, 2004.

Waters, Thomas R, and Robert B Dick. “Evidence of health risks associated with prolonged standing at work and intervention effectiveness.” Rehabilitation nursing: the official journal of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses vol. 40,3 (2015): 148-65. doi:10.1002/rnj.166

Complications Poor Posture

Complications Poor Posture

As the body gets older, slouching, little to no physical activity, and regular stretching cause muscle fatigue, weakness, tension, leading to poor posture complications. The complications include:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Spinal dysfunction
  • Joint degeneration
  • Sleep problems
  • Chronic pain

Posture can be improved along with overall spinal health and a better quality of life through chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic will improve posture through adjustments, postural exercise training and stretching, education on ergonomics, and nutrition to strengthen the body.

Complications Poor Posture

Complications Poor Posture

Symptoms

Symptoms vary as they depend on the severity of the case and condition.

  • Muscle fatigue/weakness
  • Body aches and soreness
  • Back pain
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Standing and/or walking problems
  • Headaches
  • Potbelly

Mechanisms

Poor posture leads to dysfunction and interference with the body’s postural mechanisms. These include:

Muscle Fibers

Skeletal muscle comprises two types of muscle fiber. They are static or slow-twitch muscles and phasic or fast-twitch muscles. Static muscle fibers are found in the deeper muscle layers. Static fibers burn energy slowly and keep working without tiring. They help the body maintain posture without effort and contribute to balance by sensing the body’s position and transmitting the information to the brain. Phasic muscle fibers are used for movement and activity but can quickly run out of energy. Poor posture causes muscle fatigue because the phasic fibers are used rather than the static fibers to maintain the body’s proper position.

Muscle Strength and Length

Over time, the body constantly needs support from the phasic muscle fibers. This causes the deeper supporting muscles to waste away because they are not being used. Weak, unused muscles begin to tighten, causing a shortening of muscle length that can compact the spine’s bones and cause back complications.

Nervous System Feedback

The deeper layers of muscle sense the body’s position in space and relay this information to the brain. The brain does not receive complete transmission if the phasic muscle fibers take over this function. The brain assumes that the body needs to be propped up/corrected to counteract the poor posture effects, triggering further muscle contraction, adding to the fatigue and pain.

Listening To The Body

The objective is to form a habit of regularly listening to what the body is saying. Make minor adjustments while standing and sitting throughout the day/night. Often what happens is individuals become so immersed in their work, school tasks that they ignore any physical discomfort and push through and forget to change positions/move around to get the muscles moving and the blood pumping. If there is muscle tension or fatigue, don’t just work through the pain; move into another healthy position.

Posture Improvement

Suggestions include:


Body Composition


Strength Training

As the body ages, it loses muscle mass, known as sarcopenia. Between the ages of 30 and 80, both men and women can lose 30-50 percent of their muscle strength. Decreasing strength can make it a challenge to lead an active lifestyle or have energy levels to complete the daily errands. Individuals can be reluctant to improve fitness levels through resistance workouts believing there is nothing left after years of inactivity. This is not true as anybody can strength train. With the right mindset, and health coaching team, goals can be set to:

  • Improve body composition
  • Improve energy levels
  • Maintain an active lifestyle
References

Creze, Maud et al. “Posture-related stiffness mapping of paraspinal muscles.” Journal of anatomy vol. 234,6 (2019): 787-799. doi:10.1111/joa.12978

Deliagina, Tatiana G et al. “Physiological and circuit mechanisms of postural control.” Current opinion in neurobiology vol. 22,4 (2012): 646-52. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2012.03.002

Korakakis, Vasileios et al. “Physiotherapist perceptions of optimal sitting and standing posture.” Musculoskeletal Science & practice vol. 39 (2019): 24-31. doi:10.1016/j.msksp.2018.11.004

Pollock, A S et al. “What is balance?.” Clinical rehabilitation vol. 14,4 (2000): 402-6. doi:10.1191/0269215500cr342oa

Waters, Thomas R, and Robert B Dick. “Evidence of health risks associated with prolonged standing at work and intervention effectiveness.” Rehabilitation nursing: the official journal of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses vol. 40,3 (2015): 148-65. doi:10.1002/rnj.166

Alexander Technique

Alexander Technique

Improving posture can be challenging. Poor posture is often the source of various musculoskeletal issues like chronic pain throughout the body. Poor posture can be so ingrained in the brain that it becomes an unconscious positioning reflex that feels right but could be worsening spinal, hip, and leg problems. The Alexander Technique could be a treatment option that could help long-term.

Alexander Technique

Alexander Technique

The approach focuses on learning mind-body awareness. It is an educational process to teach individuals to become aware of their body positioning and change unhealthy posture/movement habits into healthy ones. The objective is learning to utilize sufficient levels of muscle tension for everyday activities, like sitting, standing up, and walking in a healthy way to maintain optimal health of the musculoskeletal system.

  • The theory is that less tension minimizes wear and tear on the muscles and structures of the spine vulnerable to compression.
  • The fundamental goal of the Alexander Technique is to undo all the unhealthy tension habits to decompress the spine and retrain the mind and body to approach movement and body positioning in a new and healthy way.

Teachings

The technique can be done in a class setting or one-on-one teaching because everyone’s postural and movement habits are unique. A teacher helps identify the tension-inducing postures and educates the individual on how to correct them. Human touch is an integral part of the Alexander Technique. Using their hands gently to adjust the individual to a proper upright position, a teacher helps release pressure from the head, neck, shoulders, and upper back. The individual learns to release the tension throughout their body. The Alexander Technique is a type of hands-on therapy; it is not manipulation or massage. It uses a light touch with no risk of injury to the spine, allowing anyone to participate. However, individuals must be willing to participate/engage in the process to get the benefits. Most individuals can tell if it’s right for them during the first lesson. A typical program teaches:

  • Comfortably sitting up straight.
  • Reducing overuse of superficial musculature.
  • Increasing proprioceptive awareness.
  • Staying alert to the body’s warning of tension and compression.

Tension Build Up

Individuals usually don’t even realize they’re constantly placing pressure on their spine from unhealthy postural habits, building up muscular tension they never knew they created. For example, unhealthy neck position habits include:

  • Pushing the head forward
  • Slumping over
  • Pinning the shoulders back
  • These postures generate/build pressure and tension that radiates outward and down to the large muscles of the spine.
  • Habitual downward pressure can pull and change the spine’s shape, leading to degenerative forms of spinal deformity in severe cases.
  • When the tension is released, the neck and body begin to stand upright comfortably, without pulling down or pulling back.

Frederick Matthias Alexander

Developed the technique in the 1890s to help his muscle tension problems affecting his acting career. When performing, he would stiffen his neck and pull his head back and up, building tension that caused him to tighten his throat and lose his voice. He did not know he was doing this until he performed in front of a mirror and saw his awkward positioning. He realized this and retrained himself to pose naturally, stay relaxed, and be aware of any tension building in the muscles to release it immediately. Alexander Technique educators/practitioners practice all over the world. The American Society for the Alexander Technique or AmSAT website has a Find A Teacher Tool that connects individuals to AmSAT-approved teachers.


Body Composition


Practicing Mindfulness

Developing a mindfulness practice can help identify triggers of negative behavior or thoughts. Just like diet and exercise, practicing mindfulness is unique to everyone. It is recommended to try different things like:

  • Journaling is another way to tune into oneself. Grab a pen and paper, a computer, tablet, or phone, and take a few minutes to write every day.
  • Write one thing that makes you happy.
  • One thing you want to improve.
  • One goal you want to accomplish that day or that week.

Mindful music listening can help reduce stress by allowing the individual to focus their attention when their mind is going in all directions.

  • Instead of turning to the news or email when waking up, grab a cup of coffee or tea and listen to a favorite podcast or music.
  • Put the phone away and listen to your mind and self.

Try to meditate in the morning when waking up. This helps set the day’s goals/plans. Goal-setting mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress levels and anxiety. However, if the morning is not possible then at night before bed can be used to reflect on the day’s activities, what went well, what didn’t, how to improve something, whatever the case, the point is to make time for yourself to reflect, set goals, and develop a plan to achieve those goals.

References

Becker, Jordan J et al. “Preliminary evidence for feasibility, efficacy, and mechanisms of Alexander technique group classes for chronic neck pain.” Complementary therapies in medicine vol. 39 (2018): 80-86. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2018.05.012

Cacciatore et al., Improvement in automatic postural coordination following Alexander technique lessons in a person with low back pain. Physical Therapy Journal, 2005; 85:565-578. Accessed January 5, 2011

Chin, Brian et al. “Psychological mechanisms driving stress resilience in mindfulness training: A randomized controlled trial.” Health psychology: official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association vol. 38,8 (2019): 759-768. doi:10.1037/hea0000763

Little P, Lewith G, Webley F, et al. Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain. The BMJ. 2008;337:a884. doi: doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a884.

Paolucci, Teresa et al. “Chronic low back pain and postural rehabilitation exercise: a literature review.” Journal of pain research vol. 12 95-107. December 20 2018, doi:10.2147/JPR.S171729

Spinal Goals

Spinal Goals

Setting spinal goals is important for an individual’s treatment plan to ensure a thorough and successful recovery following:

  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Spinal condition

When developing goals with a surgeon or spine specialist, utilizing a well-known method known as SMART is recommended. Individuals are encouraged to set goals to accomplish personal growth and improvement. It is a model for forming goals and objectives that for medical purposes include:

  • Pain management
  • Physical Rehabilitation
  • Mental health
  • Exercises
  • Stretching
  • Anti-inflammatory diet

Spinal Goals

S.M.A.R.T Spinal Goals

The acronym stands for:

Specific

  • Target a specific area for improvement.

Measurable

  • Find ways to track progress.
  • This could be fitness trackers, daily journaling – writing, video, health coach, etc.

Attainable

  • Determine if the goal is achievable.
  • Figure out what tools or skill sets are needed to reach the goal.

Realistic

  • Results-oriented goals.
  • Measure results or output, including accomplishments.

Time Frame

  • Set goals within a doable time frame.

Goal setting helps individuals monitor their progress when recovering from injury, surgery, and/or spinal conditions. Making goals smaller makes it easier to achieve improvements. It’s recommended to have a partner assistant during the goal-setting because the pain can compromise decision-making. Pain affects the mind’s abilities to assess improvement and treatment response rationally. Taking the most important goals and focusing on small building blocks helps individuals maintain motivation during a long recovery process.

Difference Between Goal Setting and Treatment

A standard treatment plan is structured for a specific result and is not set up for adjusting the way goal setting does. A treatment plan is created and prescribed to a patient with little patient input. Goal setting is a collaboration between a patient and a doctor setting objectives as stepping-off points to achieve goals. Goal setting empowers patients with education, skillsets, and tools to succeed and continue that mindset as their lives move on. Achieving short-term goals helps individuals reflect positively on small gains that set a solid foundation for more challenging future goals.

Spinal Treatment Goals

Goals are personalized/custom-tailored to the individual’s case and condition. For example, a patient could set a goal of returning to weekend sports activities. Therefore, achieving the goal could require the individual to engage in exercise five days a week for the next two weeks that could include physical therapy rehabilitation:

These activities are small goals that help the body adapt to handling additional physical stress.

Goal Setting When In Recovery

Spinal issues are dealt with by creating reasonable small objectives to reach a goal. SMART goal setting is an instrumental framework for medical providers to help identify what is important to the patient. Modifications on SMART goals can be done to adjust to the individual’s needs. Spinal goals help patients accomplish what is necessary, keeping them empowered and motivated.


Body Composition


Too Comfortable With Goals

An individual may have a great deal of success doing the same workouts initially but then notice they’re getting easier and are not seeing the same rate of progression. That same workout routine, same weights, and equipment will only go so far in goal achievement. In recovery, as the body gets stronger and fitness levels improve, it is recommended to consistently challenge yourself to avoid falling into a rehabilitation fitness plateau. Part of the recovery process is to change up workouts to challenge the body to achieve optimal health and healing. Individuals are recommended to:

Increase weight and or reps

  • Increase the amount of weight or the number of reps in each set.

Increase or decrease the tempo

  • Shorten the rest period between sets to keep the heart rate high or slow down to focus on muscle contraction.

Experiment with different types of workout sets

  • If you’ve been doing the same kinds of lifts, try drop sets, supersets, or AMRAP (as many reps as possible) to challenge your muscles differently.

Learn new exercises

  • Individuals doing a lot of weightlifting are recommended to engage in plyometric body exercises.
  • Individuals doing high-intensity interval training are recommended to incorporate a long run or bike ride.

Changing the workout routine will keep challenging the body, which is great for health progress.

References

Alexanders, Jenny et al. “Goal setting practices used within anterior cruciate ligament rehabilitation: An exploration of physiotherapists understanding, training, and experiences.” Musculoskeletal care vol. 19,3 (2021): 293-305. doi:10.1002/msc.1535

Bovend’Eerdt, Thamar J H et al. “Writing SMART rehabilitation goals and achieving goal attainment scaling: a practical guide.” Clinical rehabilitation vol. 23,4 (2009): 352-61. doi:10.1177/0269215508101741

Haas, B et al. “Rehabilitation goals of people with spinal cord injuries can be classified against the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health Core Set for spinal cord injuries.” Spinal cord vol. 54,4 (2016): 324-8. doi:10.1038/sc.2015.155

Gentle Yoga Poses After Spinal Fusion Surgery

Gentle Yoga Poses After Spinal Fusion Surgery

Recovery and rehabilitation after spinal fusion surgery take time. Gentle yoga poses can help expedite recovery from spinal fusion surgery and are recommended in a rehabilitation program. The spine is the body’s central support structure that allows the body to stand upright, bend, and stay balanced. However, an individual may need to have vertebrae fused to repair painful back problems. Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that permanently connects/fuses two or more vertebrae into a single bone. The procedure is done to help:

  • Correct a deformity
  • Improve stability
  • Reduce pain

At the beginning of the recovery process, the doctor may recommend light physical activity like walking. As the spine continues to heal, moderate exercise is essential for optimal recovery. Doctors are recommending gentle yoga to increase mobility, flexibility and regain strength.

Gentle Yoga Poses After Spinal Fusion Surgery

Gentle Yoga and Spine Surgery Recovery

Yoga has become a way to stretch the body, exercise, promote physical and mental well-being. There are different styles of yoga, ranging from gentle stretching to advanced poses. Yoga focuses on stretching, coordination, and balance. When stretching the body, the range of motion is improved. Yoga also helps improve balance and increases strength to reduce the risk of falls and injuries. Gentle yoga after spinal fusion benefits include:

  • Pain relief
  • Stress reduction
  • Improved mental health
  • Increased flexibility and strength
  • Improved balance
  • Increase in energy levels

Gentle yoga after surgery focuses on an improved range of motion/coordination of the arms and legs with the torso. This allows the spine to safely flex, not become stiff, and avoid strain, leading to fuller activity.

When To Begin Yoga After Spinal Fusion?

A reduced range of motion and loss of muscle mass is expected in the weeks and months following surgery. The healthcare/rehabilitation team will address this through exercise and physical therapy once the doctor clears the individual to begin rehabilitation training. The doctor will use some form of diagnostic imaging to determine if the vertebrae have fully fused before giving the ok for exercise. Most individuals can begin light physical activity four to six weeks after the procedure. If the fusion surgery was fused in only one place, individuals could start gentle yoga poses within two to three months. For a multi-level fusion surgery, individuals may need to wait four to six months after the procedure before they can safely begin.

Yoga Recovery Program

It’s essential to take it slow and steady when first beginning yoga after spinal fusion. As the body continues to heal, gradually add more challenging poses and stretches to the routine. This is a graduated recovery program separated into stages to help the individual build back strength and flexibility. In the first stages of recovery, gentle poses that have minimal effects on the spine are recommended. These include:

A few weeks to a month later, with the doctor’s clearance, the individual can advance to poses that stretch/flex the spine a little more, including:

Eventually, individuals can slowly increase the challenge further, with poses like:

Garudasana – Eagle pose
Gomukhasana – Cow Face pose
Vasisthasana – Side plank pose

It’s crucial to listen to the body as a guide when moving through the poses, no matter what stage of recovery. The fusion needs time to heal and stabilize, so any poses that involve twisting movements and flexing should be avoided. Seek advice if there is confusion about how or whether or not to proceed. It is recommended to work with an experienced yoga teacher after spinal fusion. A knowledgeable instructor can guide with the poses, inform which poses to avoid and make modifications to get the most out of the gentle poses.


Body Composition


How Heat Affects Basal Metabolic Rate

Gender, height, and age influence Basal Metabolic Rate. These are factors individuals cannot control or change. However, individuals can increase the calories the body burns by regulating body temperature. Both the internal and external temperatures influence metabolic rate. The chemical reactions that contribute to metabolism happen more quickly if the temperature is higher, as the body works harder to restore normal temperature balance. For example, when a fever is present, the Basal Metabolic Rate will jump up to a much higher rate than usual to increase the speed of cellular metabolic reactions to combat the fever and get the body back to a healthy state. When it comes to external temperature, it’s only prolonged exposure to heat that raises the Basal Metabolic Rate.

References

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. (June 2018). “Spinal Fusion.” orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/spinal-fusion/

Gillooly, James F, and Andrew P Allen. “Changes in body temperature influence the scaling of VO2max and aerobic scope in mammals.” Biology letters vol. 3,1 (2007): 99-102. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2006.0576

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (February 2020) “Yoga for Health: What the Science Says.” www.nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/yoga-for-health-science

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (April 2021) “Yoga: What You Need to Know.” www.nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga-what-you-need-to-know

Everyday Movements

Everyday Movements

Posture is how we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. A healthy posture is the correct alignment of the body supported by the right amount of muscle tension. Our everyday movements and activities affect the body’s alignment. A postural imbalance can impact the body’s health in various ways. It can cause:

  • General soreness
  • Back pain
  • Muscular pain
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive problems
  • Poor self-esteem

Unhealthy posture can increase the risk of spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, stress joints, and muscles, resulting in permanent damage if left untreated. The best way to prevent postural imbalances is to be aware of the causes utilize proper ergonomic and movement strategies that can help avoid these problems. As the everyday bad habits, behaviors, and activities are understood, it is much easier to prevent and correct them.

Everyday Movements

Everyday Posture Is Important

Specific muscles maintain the body’s posture, so we don’t have to think about it and constantly adjust. Muscle groups, including the hamstrings and large back muscles, are essential in maintaining healthy positions. When the muscles function correctly, the postural muscles prevent gravity from pushing the body forward. Postural muscles also maintain balance when moving. A healthy posture reduces strain on the supporting muscles and ligaments during everyday movement and weight-bearing activities. Engaging in healthy posture helps:

  • Keep the bones and joints in correct alignment so that the muscles function correctly.
  • Decrease the abnormal wearing of joints resulting in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
  • Reduce the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, preventing injury.
  • Allow muscles to work more efficiently.
  • The body exert less energy.
  • Prevent muscle fatigue and muscle pain.
  • Prevent muscle strain and overuse disorders.

Unhealthy Posture

Unhealthy posture results when the body sits or stands with the spine in an abnormal position. When an individual practices unhealthy posture over a long period, it progressively leads to muscles and ligaments becoming elongated and weak, while others become short and tight. This creates a physical imbalance that leads to postural abnormalities like:

  • Rounded shoulders
  • Forward head posture
  • Thoracic kyphosis or hunched back
  • Lumbar lordosis
  • Swayback
  • Limited mobility
  • Increases the risk of injury

Causes

Habits

  • Individuals can begin to develop unhealthy habits that negatively impact their posture, like walking with their head looking towards the ground. This shifts the body out of alignment.

Sitting For Too Long

  • Spending too much time sitting even with the correct posture will impact the spine and muscles. It weakens the muscles, ligaments, and abdominals.

Weight

  • Carrying extra weight can force the spine into an awkward position. This is true for individuals with pot bellies, as it pulls the lower back forward, increasing the risk of lumbar lordosis.

Unhealthy Diet

  • If the spine does not have access to the vitamins and nutrients it needs, it can struggle to maintain its strength and flexibility. It is also more difficult for the body to repair damage to the spine’s muscles and ligaments.

Clothing and Footwear

  • Clothing and footwear can impact posture.
  • High heels, poor-fitting shoes, saggy jeans, large belts, heavy jackets, and other items can force the spine into an unnatural position.
  • These are fine to wear for short periods but avoid wearing them day in and day out.

Treatment

Chiropractors specialize in issues affecting the spine, especially posture. They can:

  • Perform a postural examination involving a complete assessment of the musculoskeletal system to identify any joint misalignments and issues that affect soft tissue.
  • Perform adjustments of misaligned joints using various techniques.
  • Recommend stretches to loosen/lengthen tight muscles and strengthen weak ones, leading to improvements. A chiropractor will develop an effective stretching regimen to target the correct muscles.
  • Recommend nutritional advice, exercise, and everyday habit adjustments.

Body Composition


Insulin Resistance

Individuals who sit for extended periods, don’t exercise and don’t watch their diet can experience insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when insulin cannot transport excess blood sugar out of the blood and into the muscles. One study found that women who sat for eight hours a day had a higher chance of developing diabetes. Individuals with diabetes tend to have more fat within their bodies, particularly visceral fat, increasing insulin resistance potential. Individuals with diabetes experience a faster loss of muscle mass as they age, further intensifying symptoms and deterioration of body composition.

References

Feldman, Anatol G. “The Relationship Between Postural and Movement Stability.” Advances in experimental medicine and biology vol. 957 (2016): 105-120. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-47313-0_6

Jaromi, Melinda et al. “Treatment and ergonomics training of work-related lower back pain and body posture problems for nurses.” Journal of clinical nursing vol. 21,11-12 (2012): 1776-84. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04089.x

Jung, Suk Hwa et al. “Visceral Fat Mass Has Stronger Associations with Diabetes and Prediabetes than Other Anthropometric Obesity Indicators among Korean Adults.” Yonsei medical journal vol. 57,3 (2016): 674-80. doi:10.3349/ymj.2016.57.3.674

Pope, Malcolm H et al. “Spine ergonomics.” Annual review of biomedical engineering vol. 4 (2002): 49-68. doi:10.1146/annurev.bioeng.4.092101.122107

Low Back Support Pillow

Low Back Support Pillow

The low back is made up of five vertebrae, L1 to L5. Pain in the low back is common, specifically because of all the sitting at work, school, and home. Individuals dealing with low back pain know how difficult it can be to sit without discomfort and have found that a low back support pillow can help.

Low Back Support Pillow

Low Back Support Pillow

A lumbar pillow is a pillow that supports the low back region of the spine. Different types include:

  • Lumbar rolls.
  • Lumbar pillows for sleep or laying down.
  • Vented lumbar pillows that allow airflow.
  • Specially shaped pillows made from materials like memory foam.
  • Lumbar pillows can be used on any chair at the office or home.
  • They are also helpful for travel with small-sized versions that can be packed and easy to carry.

How Lumbar Pillows Help

According to the CDC, the average adult spends around 6.5 and 8 hours a day sitting. Constant sitting hurts the body, specifically the spine and the back muscles, and is a significant cause of muscle stress. Properly supporting the low back helps remove the stress and strain. A low back support pillow can help correct sitting posture.

Pillow Options

There are plenty of options for low-back support pillow shapes, sizes, fillings, and materials. These include:

  • Memory foam.
  • Gel options.
  • Down and down-alternative.
  • No-fill lumbar support pillows offer airflow.
  • Some look like a half-cylinder in shape, rectangular, and curved.

Personal preference and comfort are different for everybody, and it could take some trial and error to find the right lumbar pillow. Some pillows are customizable, allowing the ability to add or remove filling as needed. Talking with a spine specialist, orthopedist or chiropractor can help in figuring out what type is best. Pillows come in various price ranges, with some at $10-15, while others can cost $100 or more. However, any pillow that provides enough support for the low spine’s natural curvature can work. It is important to be comfortable and supported to prevent pain and injury no matter where you sit.


Body Composition


Fermentable and Nonfermentable Fiber

The entire body can host trillions of beneficial bacteria. The majority live in the intestines and are referred to as the gut microbiome. Also known as the forgotten organ, these bacteria have a say in the body’s composition and overall health. The beneficial bacteria thrive on fermentable fiber, and fermentation in the gut produces short-chain fatty acids like:

  • Acetate.
  • Propionate.
  • Butyrate.
  • These help suppress gut inflammation and can reduce the risk of various digestive disorders like:
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Ulcerative colitis.

Foods that are rich in fermentable fibers include:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Cereal fibers that are rich in cellulose, like wheat bran, are nonfermentable.
References

“What is Memory Foam?” Sleep Foundation, Seattle, WA. August 2020. www.sleepfoundation.org/mattress-information/what-is-memory-foam

“Association Between Sitting Time and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors After Adjustment for Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, 2010–2013.” Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA. December 2016. www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2016/16_0263.htm

“Ergonomics for Prolonged Sitting.” The University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. www.uclahealth.org/spinecenter/ergonomics-prolonged-sitting

“Workplace sitting is associated with self-reported general health and back/neck pain: a cross-sectional analysis in 44,978 employees.” BMC Public Health, London, UK. May 2021. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33957889/

Walking With Correct Posture

Walking With Correct Posture

Most individuals don’t think about how they walk or whether they are walking with the correct posture. Knowing how to walk with the proper technique and posture can help:

  • Ensure the bones and joints maintain proper alignment.
  • Decrease abnormal wear and tear on the joints, muscles, and ligaments from awkward positions.
  • Prevent neck, back, hip, and leg pain.
  • Reduce muscle aches and fatigue.
  • Reduce injury risk.
  • Improve balance, stability, and mobility.

Walking with the correct technique and posture is not complicated but requires individuals to stay aware of standing and moving.

Walking With Correct Posture

Correct Posture

Walking is a physical activity that involves the whole body. It helps to focus on each part of the body to understand how to walk correctly fully.

Head-Up

  • Focus on standing straight with the chin parallel to the ground and ears aligned above the shoulders.
  • Imagine the head being pulled gently upwards by an invisible string attached to the sky/ceiling.
  • This can help prevent dropping the head into the chest while walking.
  • Maintain eyes forward and gaze.
  • Focus on an area about 10 to 20 feet ahead when walking.

Straighten and Extend the Spine

  • Focus on extending the spine while walking.
  • Avoid slouching, hunching, or leaning forward. This stresses the back muscles.

Relaxed Shoulders Down and Back

The shoulders have a role with posture and technique. Shoulders that are tense or hunched forward can strain the muscles and joints in the shoulders, upper back, and neck. When walking, perform the following:

  • Raise the shoulders as high as they will go in a shrugging motion, then let them fall and relax.
  • Shoulder shrugs will help relieve tightness or tension.
  • This places the shoulders in a natural position that allows for easy arm movement.
  • Keep the shoulders loose and relaxed.
  • Shoulder shrugs while walking can help ensure that the shoulders are relaxed and in the correct position.

Swing the Arms

Walking correctly can be helped by gently swinging the arms back and forth at the sides.

  • Make sure to swing the arms from the shoulders, not from the elbows.
  • Do not swing the arms across the body.
  • Do not swing the arms up too high.
  • Keep them around the midsection, not around the chest.

Engage the Body’s Core

The core muscles have an essential role and help the body move with ease.

Step Heel to Toe

Step in a steady heel-to-toe gait.

  • The foot should hit the ground with the heel first.
  • Then roll through the heel to the toes.
  • Push out of step with the toes.
  • Avoid flat-footed steps and/or landing with the toes first.

Injury Prevention

To prevent injury or overuse wear and tear on the muscles and joints, it is recommended to avoid the following:

Looking down too frequently

  • Looking down at the ground or phone too much places unnecessary strain on the neck.

Do not take long strides

  • The power comes from pushing off of the rear leg.
  • Overstriding places stress on the lower leg joints.

Rolling or swinging the hips

  • The hips should stay as level as possible.

Slouching

  • This will help avoid back and shoulder strain.

Wearing the wrong shoes

  • Wear the right shoes when walking for more than a few minutes.
  • Shoes should fit comfortably.
  • Provide arch and heel support.
  • Well-cushioned to absorb the shock of the feet hitting the ground.

Benefits of Correct Posture

The physical and mental benefits of proper posture and optimal walking technique include:

Alleviation of muscle and joint pain

  • Walking properly will avoid placing unnecessary stress and strain on the muscles, ligaments, and joints.

Increased energy

  • Walking with incorrect/awkward posture can wear out the muscles faster, whereas walking with proper form helps conserve energy.

Improved breathing

  • Walking with the shoulders back allows the lungs to fill and expand fully. This makes breathing more manageable and efficient.

Improved circulation

  • When the body is properly aligned and moving correctly, it’s easier for the blood to circulate throughout the body.

Digestion improvement

  • When the internal organs are not compressed from awkward postures, the body digests food more efficiently and increases blood flow to the digestive tract.

Enhanced core strength

  • The abdominal muscles gain strength and power from walking correctly.

Reduced headaches

  • Keeping the head straight, not bending forward, can help reduce neck strain, leading to reduced headaches.

Improved balance

  • Correct posture improves balance and less prone to falling.

Correct gait and posture are not complicated but do take some practice to develop healthy habits. For any issues with gait or back problems, talk to a doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor about technique improvement.


Body Composition


Ten-Thousand Steps Speed and Distance

Before deciding to put in the walking distance and time, speed also needs to be considered. Calories burned from walking depend on the intensity, or speed, of the walk. The average walking speed is about 3 miles per hour and the number of calories burned depends on walking speed.

  • A leisure 30-minute walk at two mph yields a burn of 102 calories
  • Moderate intensity of 3.5 mph in the same 30-minute walk increases to burn 157 calories.
  • The faster the pace, the greater the heart rate.
  • The more calories are burned covering the same distance.
  • However, reaching 10,000 steps can almost entirely be irrelevant if not careful with a stable caloric intake.
References

Buldt, Andrew K et al. “The relationship between foot posture and lower limb kinematics during walking: A systematic review.” Gait & posture vol. 38,3 (2013): 363-72. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.01.010

Common posture mistakes and fixes. (2019). nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/common-posture-mistakes-and-fixes/

The cost of being on your toes. (2010). Archive.unews.utah.edu/news_releases/the-cost-of-being-on-your-toes/

Hackford, Jessie et al. “The effects of walking posture on affective and physiological states during stress.” Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry vol. 62 (2019): 80-87. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2018.09.004

Perfecting your walking technique. (n.d.). health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/perfecting-your-walking-technique

Proper walking technique. (n.d.). mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/proper-walking-technique/img-20007670

Posture Exercises To Do At Work

Posture Exercises To Do At Work

Posture exercises: It is easy to get into the bad habit of poor/improper posture, especially at work where an individual gets into a groove and continues without thinking about their posture. Not until discomfort and pain begin to present do individuals start thinking about what is causing the issues. This usually includes:

  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Tight/Compressed spine

They don’t realize that all these issues are brought on by prolonged sitting and practicing improper posture.  Individuals that practice proper posture:

  • Sleep better
  • Move better
  • Have reduced to no aches and pains
  • Digestion improves
  • Organ function improves
  • Have better overall health

Being aware of proper posture is the first step in being able to maintain it. When you feel the spine starting to curve, shoulders hunching, or the back sway, stop and take a moment to reposition the body back into proper alignment.

Posture Exercises To Do At Work

Seated Posture

Proper posture means sitting, standing, or walking in a position with little to no strain on the body’s muscles and ligaments. Good seated position means:

  • Sitting with the back straight and shoulders back.
  • Having all of the natural curves of the spine in alignment.
  • Keeping the knees bent at a right angle with the feet flat on the floor.
  • The weight is distributed evenly to both hips.
  • Keep the arms at 90 degrees to the torso, using the armrests or on a desk.
  • When looking at a computer monitor, keep it at a position where you are looking straightforward.
  • Use a chair with lower back support.
  • Even when sitting with good posture, it’s important to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
  • Regularly stand up, walk around, and stretch out.

Posture Exercises

Posture exercises will help to strengthen the back, neck, and shoulders. They also help as a reminder for maintaining good posture throughout the day.

Shoulder Lift and Release

When sitting down for long periods, individuals tend to develop hunched shoulders. It is caused by an imbalance of muscles in the neck and upper back. Specific muscles in the neck, specifically the pectoralis major and minor, become shortened and tight. The other muscles in the upper back, the trapezius,latissimus dorsi, and rhomboids, weaken and stretch out. These muscles can be stimulated by stretching throughout the day.

  • Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and spine straight.
  • Pull the shoulders up towards the ceiling.
  • Hold them there for three to five seconds.
  • Let the shoulders drop.
  • It is recommended to repeat 5 to 6 times every hour.

Shoulder rolls

Another exercise for avoiding rounded/hunched shoulders.

  • Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and spine straight.
  • Take a breath in.
  • Lift the shoulders towards the ears.
  • Move the shoulders back.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together.
  • On the exhale, finish the rotation by dropping the shoulders back to a neutral position.
  • Repeat 5 to 6 times every hour.
  • The exercise can be done in the opposite direction.

Neck rolls

Forward head posture, aka text neck, can develop. Neck rolls are recommended throughout the day.

  • Lean your head towards the right shoulder.
  • Relax the neck and let your head roll towards your chest.
  • Continue rolling your head towards the left and up and around back to the starting position.
  • Perform at least 3-4 neck rolls every few hours.
  • Repeat the exercise and change direction.

Trapezius stretch

The trapezius is a major muscle group in the upper-middle section of the back and the neck. The trapezius is responsible for moving the shoulder blades and extending the neck. Stretching these muscles regularly will help maintain good posture.

  • Sit in your chair with the spine straight and feet flat on the ground.
  • Place the right hand over the top of your head.
  • Gently pull your head towards the right shoulder.
  • Perform one to three times for each side.
  • Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.

Arm rotations

This exercise can help maintain back and shoulder alignment. This can be performed sitting or standing.

  • Stretch out the arms to the sides with palms facing downward.
  • While keeping the spine straight, move the arms in small circles.
  • Perform ten repetitions rotating the arms forward, then backward.
  • Perform 3-4 sets.

Doing these posture exercises at your workstation regularly will help improve and maintain proper posture and minimize the risk of back, neck, and shoulder pain.


Body Composition


Fitness for Long-Term Health

Muscle building isn’t only for bodybuilders and athletes. Everyone can benefit from building their Lean Body Mass for long-term health. It is crucial to monitor Lean Body Mass changes by having body composition measured. Body composition analysis divides the body’s weight into various components.

  • Fat Mass
  • Lean Body Mass
  • Basal Metabolic Rate
  • This will give a clearer picture of overall fitness and health.

Building Lean Body Mass is an investment in the body’s future. The more LBM that is built, the more is in reserve when the body needs it. But before adding protein shakes and resistance workouts to the daily regimen, there needs to be a plan. The first step to building healthy lean body mass is to measure how much there is with a body composition analysis.

References

Biswas A, Oh PI, Faulkner GE, et al. Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162:123-132. doi:10.7326/M14-1651. Accessed January 7, 2017.

Ergonomics for Prolonged Sitting. UCLA Spine Center Web site. spinecenter.ucla.edu/ergonomics-prolonged-sitting. Accessed January 7, 2017.

Florido R, Michos E. Sitting Disease: Moving Your Way to a Healthier Heart. U.S. News & World Report. health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/09/14/sitting-disease-moving-your-way-to-a-healthier-heart. Published September 14, 2015. Accessed January 7, 2017.

Fortner, Miles O et al. “Treating ‘slouchy’ (hyperkyphosis) posture with chiropractic biophysics®: a case report utilizing a multimodal mirror image® rehabilitation program.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 29,8 (2017): 1475-1480. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1475

Levine JA. What are the risks of sitting too much? Mayo Clinic Web site. www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005. Published September 4, 2015. Accessed January 7, 2017.

O’Connor B. Sitting Disease: The New Health Epidemic. The Chopra Center Web site. www.chopra.com/articles/sitting-disease-the-new-health-epidemic. Accessed January 7, 2017.

Wolfe, Robert R. “The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 84,3 (2006): 475-82. doi:10.1093/ajcn/84.3.475