Hello, everyone! It’s Dr. Bob with Lowcountry Chiropractic. I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe! As we approach the end of fall and the beginning of winter, it’s almost time to give thanks for this year. Many of us don’t enjoy the prospect of growing older. We would rather keep turning the same age year after year. But growing older means growing wiser, too. Instead of succumbing to the stiffness and soreness associated with advanced age, I’m here to tell you there’s a reward for sticking to a healthy lifestyle and it’s not too late to start! When you take care of your body, your body takes care of you. And, while we cannot control some of the effects of aging, we can certainly do our part to slow down the process. My goal is for my patients to remain limber and spry into the later decades of their life, as this mobility adds to their quality of life. In today’s post, we’ll discuss what happens to the human spine over time, as well as a few ways you can help your back stay strong for many years to come. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, read on!
There are many reasons for chronic back pain. Pregnant women cite their baby bumps for not being able to sleep well, while others cite poor posture and spinal diseases. After a certain point however, many of us simply say, “I’m just getting old.” Age is considered the catch-all for a laundry list of ailments, but the truth is: There are plenty of sixty-year-olds who beat out thirty-year-olds in terms of mobility. How is that?
First, we must understand what happens to our backs as we age. Similar to a car with hundreds of thousands of miles, our bodies accumulate wear and tear over the course of our lives. Consider the nights you spent struggling to sleep on a poor mattress, the heavy book bag you carried all through school, the pronounced slouch you took when working at your desk for hours. These habits take their toll after a while.
The spine is composed of vertebrae--small bones which stack on top of one another--and discs--the jelly-centered in-between bits which absorb shock and keep our vertebrae from rubbing together as we move. Unfortunately, our discs are rubbed down throughout our lifetimes, resulting in pain from colliding vertebrae. Unlike tires on a car, these discs have no warranty. As the discs wear down, our spinal cord is compressed, putting pressure on the sixty-two nerves which branch off from our spine and causing pain.
During our first ten years of life, discal degeneration begins. Minor tears and fissures in our spinal tissue can contribute to discal herniation (when the jelly-like interior of a disk slips through a crack in the hard outer shell), which is a precursor to radiculopathy (a pinched nerve root). Radiculopathy is common in young adults.
Car accidents and their resulting whiplash, in addition to broken bones, can accelerate the formation of arthritis in the affected joints. Arthritis can then affect the junctions in our spine where our vertebrae meet, causing further irritation.
As we age, we struggle to absorb the necessary level of calcium and other vital nutrients, which results in weakened bones or osteoporosis. We become more prone to bone breaks and fractures. Osteoporosis can lead to bone remodeling and even rotatory deformities. A study in the Menopause Review found women experience a noted increase in back pain when undergoing perimenopause and menopause. Lower back pain is the most common health problem contributing to disability in older adults, with as many as 70% of those aged sixty-five and above reporting they suffer from LBP. All of these things contribute to the stark reality of many elderly, who live in near constant back pain, with limited mobility.
Returning to the car analogy: How do you care for your vehicle to ensure you’ll be able to drive as many miles as possible, as comfortably as possible? Well, you change the oil. You buy the best grade of gas. You put air in the tires and fix minor issues as soon as they appear. In this way, you can be fairly sure your car puts out the maximum amount of mileage. In the same way, when you take care of your body, you can reduce (or slow) some of the degenerative effects of aging.
One of the ways you can “take your body to the shop” is exercise. Research shows exercise is the reason certain older people experience less health problems as they age. In addition to girding the spine and staving off conditions like degenerative disc disease, exercise can help keep away a host of other ailments, including depression and anxiety. A study conducted to assess the effect of exercise on the elderly (who were already afflicted with lower back pain), yielded significant results. The conclusion was simple: “Strengthening exercise is a beneficial treatment for older people with LBP in reducing pain intensity, disability, and improved functional performances.”
While you need not sign up for a gym membership, you’ll want to dedicate equal focus to strength training as you do to cardio. Exercises which target the core and back muscles will help support your spine in its everyday activities. Another study showed an eight-week flexibility training program was able to improve the range of motion of elderly women. If you aren’t sure where to begin or you have not been active for many months, start by stretching. As your muscles acclimate to daily use, you’ll start to crave further movement. As well, stretching can help prevent injuries once you do start exercising vigorously.
Another key indicator of overall health is diet. Being overweight can contribute to back pain. According to a study conducted last year, those in the study with spinal pain had significantly poorer diets than those without. Those individuals with a healthy diet were 24% less likely to report spinal pain. Similarly, while fruit, whole grains, and dairy intake were associated with 20-26% lowered likelihood to experience chronic pain, added sugars in an individual’s diet were associated with a 49% increase in likelihood to experience chronic spinal pain. Without proper nutrients, structures within the body are unable to heal and restore themselves. Of course, a balanced diet will be recommended by any physician. However, if you aim to maintain a healthy spine, you’ll want to hone in on a few essential vitamins and minerals.
The first of these essentials is calcium. Calcium is one of the means of ensuring bone mass into our old age. A deficiency in calcium is one of the main contributors to brittle, weak bones. Calcium can be found in dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheeses. Dark, leafy greens and oily, fatty fish are also great sources. Additionally, almonds, oranges, tofu, and black strap molasses can help you reach your daily calcium intake goal. To absorb calcium, your body also needs vitamin D. Usually, these two supplements are paired together to ensure proper absorption. However, vitamin D can also be found in egg yolks, canned salmon with bones, and sunlight.
Calcium alone does not produce strong bones. To gain strong bones, you’ll also need magnesium. Magnesium is responsible for facilitating over 300 biochemical reactions within the body, as well as helping to form the matrix of our bones. Unfortunately, if this necessary magnesium cannot be found in our blood, our body will steal the mineral from our bones. If you are deficient in magnesium, you may experience cramps or muscle spasms often. The muscles which support and hold the spine are also susceptible to this tension. Seek magnesium in dark greens, dark chocolate, bananas, avocados, cashews, Brazil nuts, whole grains, and supplements.
Finally, there’s the benefits of seeking regular chiropractic care. Chiropractic care can treat chronic conditions and pain, but its uses are better served in preventing chronic conditions and pain. When left untreated, subluxations within the spine can worsen and disrupt our quality of life. When left for long periods--years and decades--these subluxations become limitations in movement and pain points.
Aging isn’t linear. It doesn’t happen all at once, either. Instead, numerous factors play into how someone ages, including: stress, diet, sleep, environment, socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, and more. Having access to chiropractic care, which was specifically created to care for the spine, surely impacts the aging process of those receiving treatment. Since the spine houses so many essential nerves, its health is a fundamental prerequisite for the health of the rest of the body. Regular chiropractic care is associated with lower levels of pain, especially pain related to the neck and back. Not only can chiropractic care help alleviate back pain in elderly patients, it can assist in maintaining the mobility of younger spines, as well.
These tips are for those who take their long-term health seriously and would like to be able to continue flipping cartwheels into their old age. (Or, learn how to flip cartwheels in their old age.) There’s no rule in any book which says older individuals must live with back pain and lessened mobility. We here at Lowcountry Chiropractic are here to help. Send us a quick email or a phone call and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. It’s my job to perform a thorough analysis of your situation and develop a plan for ensuring you garner as many “miles” as possible from your back. I hope this information was helpful to you! I look forward to seeing you and remember: I’m Dr. Bob and I have your back covered!
Hello, everyone! It’s Dr. Bob with Lowcountry Chiropractic. I hope all of you are doing well! The month of August has meant hot, humid days for the Lowcountry. August has also meant a return to school and work for many of us. As summer vacation comes to an end, kids don heavy backpacks and adults spend consecutive hours typing at their desks. To my ears, this sounds like a whole lot of back strain! Today, I’m going to share a few stretches with you which can help relieve some of the tension you may be experiencing. Perform these stretches as a family or throughout your workday to keep limber and pain-free!
My patients’ most common complaint is lower back pain. This can include stiffness, tenderness, or even mild burning. The causes for lower back pain can vary. Common causes include poor posture, sports injuries (involving excessive twisting of the torso), lifting heavy objects and an unexpected fall. Of course, there could also be an underlying issue, such as a lumbar herniated disc or joint dysfunction. Due to this, your best option for assuaging lower back pain long term is to seek regular chiropractic care. However, if you need relief sooner rather than later, these stretches can be a handy asset in your pain-relief tool box.
These stretches are simple-yet-effective and suited for everyone. You can perform these at home, at work, indoors, outdoors—wherever and whenever you feel the need! It’s recommended you perform these stretches daily for the best results. One study found the effects of a particular stretch were particularly present in the fifteen seconds following the stretch and noticeable for the subsequent twenty four hours. Gains in flexibility diminish in the following days, however. Therefore, to build on your progress and continue training your muscles to be more flexible, you should stretch at least two to three times a week.
Stretching frequently can decrease the potential for injury significantly. As well, as we age and become more inflexible, simple day-to-day tasks can become more difficult. Our ability to balance and maintain an upright posture becomes more difficult when our muscles are tight and stiff, which could lead to a fall. This is the last thing anyone wants! This is why it’s important to invest a small amount of time, at least two to three times per week, as a preventative measure against these potentialities.
The first stretch is relatively easy and simple. This stretch is best when performed in the morning, before you’ve even left your bed. If you suffer from a stiff back and require several minutes each morning to slowly straighten up to full upright posture after waking, this stretch is for you! Begin by lying on your back with your head on a pillow. Place both of your feet flat on the bed, thus bringing your knees into a bent position. Then, using both hands, you’ll grip your knee and gently pull your knee toward your chest. Hold this position for ten to thirty seconds. Please ensure your resting leg is bent, as having your resting leg extended places undue stress on your lower back. That’s the opposite of what we’re trying to do! Repeat this process with your other knee. Then, pull both knees into your chest and hold. Finally, repeat this process three or four times.
The lumbar spine has a natural curve. Most injuries occur because of an impingement (or stress) present at the back of a disc, near the base of the spine. This stress is often caused by overextending backwards and twisting simultaneously. By performing the stretch above, you’re performing flexion(bending forward), which is the opposite motion. This allows trapped fluids to imbibe and lengthens the muscles surrounding the base of the spine.
The next stretch is perfect for desk workers or people who spend hours sitting everyday. You’ll want to perform this stretch at least once every hour during work, as continual sitting tightens the muscles of the posterior chain (including the erector muscles, the gluteus maximus, the hamstrings, and the calves).
Begin in an upright seated position, with your knees bent. From this position, you’ll slowly bend forward. Your aim is to touch your chest to your upper thighs and keep your arms relaxed. Take a deep breath. Breathe out. Spend about ten seconds in this position before moving your chest to hover over one knee. Then, after ten seconds, repeat this on the other side. This is a static stretch, therefore refrain from bouncing. If you aren’t able to go down all the way or experience pain, stop in whatever version of this position feels comfortable. Repeat this entire process three or four times.
The third stretch is a wonderful stretch to warm up your body before a workout or strenuous activity. Loose, flexible muscles bear loads much more elegantly than stiff, tight muscles. If you’re preparing to go on a run, lift weights, or carry boxes, you may want to set aside a few minutes to complete this stretch before and after.
You can begin in a squat position. You’ll want to lean a portion of your weight forward, onto your hands (positioned in front of your center of gravity), and a portion of your weight back (down through the hips). You should feel this stretch in your hip flexors and along the lower back, but shouldn’t experience any pain. Allow yourself to relax into this position for ten to fifteen seconds. Then, similar to the last stretch, bend toward one of your knees to stretch the opposite side of your back. Repeat on the opposite side. Then, complete this set two to three more times.
The final stretch is called the child’s pose and is a popular yoga stretch. If you’re not familiar with this stretch already, we’ll go through the correct steps together! First, you’ll begin on your hands and knees, in a tabletop position. A table top position entails your shoulders being stacked over your wrists and your knees underneath your hips (though slightly widened). From this position, you’ll drive your weight back through your hips, seeking to touch your rear to the backs of your ankles. Simultaneously, you’ll lean forward with both arms extended. This stretch elongates the back muscles. Try to reach forward and stop if you experience any discomfort.
Next, you’ll retract one arm by pulling in your elbow and extend the other arm. This will stretch one side of your back. Hold this position for ten to fifteen seconds. Repeat on the other side. Repeat this set on either side.
These are the essential stretches for lower back pain. A few related stretches, targeted toward specific muscle groups and types of pain are as follows.
With persistence and time, I know these stretches will help! As stated above, these stretches are not a replacement for chiropractic care. Only chiropractic care can resolve the subluxations which cause persistent pain, tightness, and nerve damage. However, these stretches (when performed regularly and with correct form) can vastly improve your quality of life and help you feel more mobile in your body! As always, I’m Dr. Bob and I’ve got your back covered!
Today I will be discussing a handful of easy to do and very important stretches to help keep you limber and healthy between your chiropractic appointments!
Hey everybody! It's Dr.Bob here with Lowcountry Chiropractic with another exciting blog dedicated to your body and your lower back. I hope everyone is staying safe and well out there. Today, we are going to be talking about stretches dedicated to the lower back and the lower part of your body. A lot of patients come in with complaints about lower back pain, stiffness, tenderness, and other similar issues. I will be discussing some very simple and effective stretches today that everyone can do to help with this kind of pain, no matter if you're working at home on your computer, on a construction site, or in a traditional office setting. If you add these stretches into your life every day, they can help save you and prevent you from injury. These stretches help if you have a job that requires you to lift heavy things. One thing I will say though before we get into today's blog, these stretches are not a substitute for chiropractic care. Chiropractic care and stretches are two different things. Stretches are meant to elongate your muscles and keep them toned and loose so they don't seize up and pull the vertebrae out, irritate the nerve, and cause a subluxation. If you have a subluxation, the stretches aren't going to fix the subluxation, which is what I'm here for!
I want to give you four main stretches to use every day. These are stretches that I give to my patients all the time. The first needs to be done in the morning before you get out of bed. This is especially for my readers who wake up very stiff in the morning and it takes time to straighten up and out of bed before you can get moving for the day. This stretch is wonderful, so I recommend you giving it a chance and see how your body improves over time when adding it into your schedule!
This second stretch is for people who sit a lot. There are a lot of people out there who sit for hours during the workday, which can be particularly hard on the body. You should be doing this particular stretch every half hour or so, maybe even more. Don't just sit in the same position all day hunched over your desk and your computer. When you sit there for hours, everything begins to tighten up. Gravity settles down into your discs and it's not a healthy situation. So, what can you do? Very simple! Stretch!
This third stretch is my favorite! I do it before and after I go to the gym, before and after I run, and I do it before and after I need to lift something heavy. This is a perfect stretch for anyone out there in the construction field who is lifting anything heavy. Please make sure to do this stretch along with all the stretches we've talked about today. If you add all of the stretches we will be talking about today into your routine, you're going to prevent a lot of bad injuries. If your muscles are looser and then you put weight on them, they're going to handle it a lot better compared to if they were wound up and tight. You can do this next stretch multiple ways, either by leaning onto a desk or chair or carefully balancing without one.
Stretch number four is a stretch called a child's pose. The child's pose is a yoga stretch. Some of you may be familiar with this, and if you are, you know what a wonderful stretch this is!
These four stretches are amazing for your lower back. While we are talking stretches today, I want to give you a few more simple stretches to add to your everyday life to help stretch out your piriformis muscles. The sciatic nerve goes through the piriformis muscles, so sometimes it is easy to blame sciatic pain on your lower back when it is coming from the piriformis muscles. When this happens, your piriformis muscle has tightened up and is squeezing that sciatic nerve, and that is not good! These next two stretches are to help you work on your piriformis and your psoas muscles, which are your hip flexors. The hip flexors are attached to the front of your hips and back in your lumbar spine. Sometimes you can get lower back pain and it's actually related to your psoas being tight. To stretch your piriformis muscles:
You can stretch your psoas muscles in many different ways, but today I am just going to give you a few options on how to stretch them.
All of these stretches are good basic. every day, effective stretches. They are effective if you keep up with them and make time for them in your busy schedule. if you don't do them every day, they won't help you as much as they could. Now that you have this blog as a reference point, there aren't any excuses not to do them. However, let me reiterate, these are stretches. This is not self-prescribed chiropractic care. These stretches will help you, but if you have a subluxation in your spine, you won't be able to stretch it out. When you have a subluxation, that is when you need to call me! If you're suffering out there and you need relief from the pain in your lower back, are experiencing sciatic pain or other pain, make sure to look us up, come find us, and we will be happy to help you in every way we can! I'm Dr. Bob, and remember, I've got your back covered! Until next time, take care!
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