Want to Live Longer? Listen to what your Mother Tells you.

Here’s the scenario: I show a patient their posture pictures and the person sees their head leaning forward, and says to me, “My mom has been on my case my whole life to stand up straighter!” old woman

So we have a laugh about it, but it is no laughing matter. The reason these patients were not able to stand up straighter is because their bodies do not permit them to! It’s not because they are lazy and do not want to. It’s because their spinal structure has adapted unsuccessfully over the course of their life, and this is the way their body compensates.

You may think, other than it not looking attractive, what is the health risk of having your head leaning forward? That’s a great question, and here’s the answer:

Imagine your head the weight of a 10 pound bowling ball.

Imagine your head leaning forward 10 or 20 degrees. Do you think this makes your head lighter or heavier? Of course the answer is heavier. How much heavier?

Research has shown that for every degree your head leans forward, that’s an extra pound of weight that needs to be supported by your neck and upper back muscles and spinal column. So, if your head is 20 degrees forward, you are supporting 30 pounds compared to 10 pounds in a healthy spine.

If this pattern were to continue over 20 or 30 years, how could this affect your long term health? In the September 23, 2004 issue of Journal of American Geriatrics Society, a study was done on over 1300 geriatrics. The results of the study showed that geriatrics with a hyperkyphotic curve, that means a greater exaggeration of the upper back curve, developed by a forward leaning head, INCREASED MORTALITY BY UP TO 14 YEARS!


Why? One reason is that the stress of a forward leaning head over a long period of time will result in reduced blood and nerve supply to your heart, and the reason given in the study is hyperkyphotic posture was specifically associated with an increased rate of death due to atherosclerosis.

Reduced nerve supply and reduced blood flow to your heart is serious business. This is why I have been using a digital posture analysis in my health practice for years. Your posture is a window into the function of your Nervous System.

Poor posture means poor Nervous System function.

Poor Nervous System function means poor ability to adapt, thrive and heal.

Poor ability to adapt, thrive and heal is a recipe for sickness, illness and disease.

Show me someone with poor posture who exhibits amazing health. Show me someone with poor posture with lots of energy and stamina.

Maybe your mother was right after all!



More or Less?

Is it human nature to want more of something, or less of something? If you use money as an example, the answer is obvious. You want more. How about vacation time? Once again, you want more.Joy1

What about health? Isn’t it true that if you have headaches, your goal would be to have less? Or neck pain? You want less of that! Or digestive problems, you want less of that! Anxiety and stress? Again, definitely less!

What would happen if you shift your paradigm to wanting MORE? I do not mean more headaches, or more neck pain, or more digestive problems, but I mean the MORE that comes with having a better functioning Nervous System and greater health. As you regain your health,

How about more energy?

What about more happiness?

Are you up for more ease in your life?

Who wouldn’t want more flexibility?

What would you be able to accomplish with more motivation?

How would your life be more amazing with more gratitude?

How much better would your life by with more compassion?

The model that has been created in our “health care” system is one of “LESS”. You want less pain, less anxiety, less tightness, less stress, less sleeping problems. Now, once you start on a path towards greater function and greater healing capacity, and your problems go away, what paradigm do you adopt? Do you think, “All my problems have gone away, I’m done?” With the changing of seasons, this is a great time to begin to think about “What do I want MORE of”, or “What have I been experiencing MORE of?”

There is so much personal power when you begin to realize that you are more energized, more in touch spiritually, more focused on your goals, more present in your relationships, more playful, more adaptable, more able to express happiness for others, and more energized!

There is much less power in living the lifestyle of having less headaches, less stress, less tightness. They are important benchmarks, but if you live this paradigm, you will soon plateau in your self assessment of your health and life. Where can you go up from there?

I want you to go for it and create the most powerful list of MORE’s that you can think of. I am here to support you in your transformation from wanting LESS of something to wanting MORE. Let me know how you’re doing in your process. Additionally, if you know someone who is struggling in not being able to reach the goal of achieving LESS of their problems, please share me with them. I would love to help them shift their paradigm from less to more.

Lessons my Mom Taught me

This past weekend, I took my regular trip to Florida to visit my mom. These trips are always memorable in the life lessons I learn every time I visit. This weekend was extra special for the reason that my sister and I took my Mom to see Barbra Streisand perform.mom

What were the lessons my Mom taught me this weekend? Here’s a brief background on my Mom. She’ll be 85 in February, she’s been widowed for almost 40 years, she doesn’t hear well, she is hunched over and needs a walker most times out of the house, and she has struggled with respiratory issues over the last ten years. On this trip, I learned two major life lessons from my Mom.

First, your attitude is your strongest tool. I have often thought, if I had all the physical problems that my Mom does, would I have the willpower to “keep on keeping on”? The entire weekend she had a smile on her face, she went out to dinner Friday night, stayed up late, went to the Streisand concert Saturday night, stayed up until after midnight, went to the beach on Sunday and traveled to my brother’s after that. What my Mom has is an attitude to keep on truckin’. We call her the EverReady Bunny. Yes, she is in survival mode, but she has an attitude to hang in there and keep up when many weaker than her have packed it in.

The second lesson I learned from my Mom is that your health is your greatest asset. I know if my Mom could turn back time she would have done things differently. She smoked for almost 50 years, she did not have an exercise program at any time in her life, and her diet has been “questionable” at best. At this point in her life, I see that her health is hanging by threads. I always talk about the foundations of optimal health:

-Optimizing Nervous System performance through Chiropractic care

-Regular exercise

-Optimize diet

-Proper sleep

-Positive Mental Attitude

Here are some basic truths regarding aging and health. As most people age, their health declines. Some people’s health declines to the point of no return. Why is that, and what can you do to ensure that you do not take that same path?

If you wait until you are 50 or 60 to begin to take back your health, the clock is ticking. Get in the game NOW. Whatever age you are, 20, 30, 40, THIS is the time to regain your health. Why live your life regretting what you have NOT done to protect your most important asset, your health? Take control now. The great thing about life is that you always have a choice in how you live it. If you have made the decision that you do not want to get older and sicker, good for you! If you are sitting on the sidelines waiting for your health to continue to decline to the point where it may be too late, take action NOW! It may be you living healthy into your later years of life.

What do you do AFTER you get out of the pool?

A week ago, my wife Shari and I went to Glenwood Springs Hot Springs. The Springs has been a family favorite for almost 20 years. Our family has spent many a weekend lounging in the pool and going down the slides. Although it seemed strange going with just the two of us, nonetheless, it was an amazing experience as it always is.iyengar

I love to play the role of an observer of people and their behaviors, especially when I venture outside of the Boulder Bubble. What I noticed at the Hot Springs was that many people seemed VERY unhealthy. I noticed many people having difficulty walking, many with skin problems, and many just not aging well. I saw people in their 50’s and 60’s look like they were in their 70’s and 80’s. I know the lure of the Hot Springs is therapeutic nature of the water. As I watched many seemingly unhealthy people make their way gingerly into the water, I felt good that they were taking a healthier step for themselves.

Upon further reflection, I thought, “what happens AFTER they get out of the pool?”

What lifestyle do they go back to?

What is their diet like?

What type of exercise is a staple in their life or they practice a sedentary lifestyle?

How focused are they on their mental approach to life?

What model of healthcare do they practice?

Is it a symptoms based approach or do they view health in  relation to how their body functions?

Is this as good as it gets, or do they participate in a more proactive lifestyle?

How about you? What do YOU do when you get out of the pool?

What are the cornerstones of your health regimen?

Is your health defined by how you feel, or by how you function?

Is your healthcare balanced by proper nutrition, exercise, adequate rest, a positive mental attitude, and chiropractic care to allow your Nervous System to allow you to be the best you can be? So much of the research I have done shows there is a high correlation between the successful steps you take to optimize your health in your 30’s and 40’s, and how your health is in your 60’s and 70’s. Once you get there, there is no turning back the hands of time.

In an interview in the Iyengar Yoga Journal before he passed, yoga icon and then 92 year old BKS Iyengar speaks about the hands of time: “You may have no problems at all up to the age of fifty or sixty. After that, the real problem arises when the tissues of the body do not bear the load. What I practise now is more difficult than what I did when I was young or struggled to learn. Though today, I don’t consider those practices as very hard although I practised ten hours a day then. Today, it is a big fight between the body and the mind. The body says, “I can’t do it.” The mind says, “Do not force me.”1

My advice is to take the proper steps towards investing in your healthy future while there is still time!

1 http://iyi.org.uk/bks-iyengar-on-yoga-practice-and-ageing/

What I Learned at the Wedding

A few weeks ago, I attended my childhood friend’s daughter’s wedding in Florida. It was a fun and exciting event, with the added thrill of spending the weekend with my mother, brother, and sisters. I noted that it didn’t seem that long ago that my family and I were the focus of the wedding we attended. Times goes by, and it seemed that we were now the weddingsecond tier relatives, kind of like the distant aunts and uncles I reluctantly invited to my wedding.

I had not seen some of the guests at the wedding for a few years, and others I had not seen in over fifteen years. In addition to catching up with those I had not seen, I really enjoyed just watching people. What do I watch in people? Call me crazy, but this is what I do:

I look at their posture; are they standing erect and comfortable like I remember them when they were in their 40’s, or are they slouching, with their heads carried forward like an oversized bowling ball?

I look at their gait. Do they walk with ease and comfort, or are their steps shortened, tentative, and uneven?

I listen to how they talk. Do they seem happy and upbeat like I remember, or do they sound stressed, tired, depressed, and angry?

I listen to what they talk about. Is it pain, sickness, illness, medication, and limitations, and the resignation that accompanies that type of talk,  or do they talk about plans, dreams, adventure, with a sense of excitement in their voice?

I wonder, what happened to them over these years? Why do they seem so different from what I remembered?

I truly treasure my knowledge and awareness about health, and am so thankful for the understanding I have gained over the years, whether it is in regard to maintaining the health of my Nervous System through chiropractic care, a proper exercise regimen, or choosing the healthiest diet to ensure my maximum health.  I understand that not everyone has that knowledge, or even a level of awareness to take action. It has taken me twenty years of dedication and devotion to arrive where I am.

Regardless of what you know and the actions that you take, here are your options:

When you reach your 50’s, 60’s, and beyond, if you haven’t made the decision and spent the time and energy to regain your health, it become harder and harder to climb that mountain. The warning signs have been sounding for many years, and the alarms are getting louder. When you have spent those years ignoring those warning signs, do you think your body is trying to tell you something? What is it trying to tell you? Probably something like, “if you don’t start listening to me, we’re going to take you down.”

If you are in your 30’s and 40’s, you may still think you are in your “immortal” phase.  Fortunately for me, I had experienced enough “warning signs” in my 30’s that I had to take action if I wanted to regain my health. If this is you, my words of advice based on my experience are that the hands of time only go forward. There is no turning back the clock. Take action NOW to make the rest of your life the healthiest it can be. It all starts with regaining the health of your Nervous System.

At the end of July, I have another wedding. It’s the daughter of my friend’s brother, and the cast of characters will be the same. I’m looking forward to spending that weekend with my family again, and doing my fair share of people watching and listening. I know what’s important to me, and that’s all I can control. How about you? What do you think you can control? Probably more than you think!

You Want the Best Night’s Sleep? Try This

What is the best position for sleeping? That question has been asked to me by hundreds of patients over the years. My understanding of spinal mechanics and my research into this area has led me to pass on the following knowledge:

Best position to sleep: On your back or on your side. Here there are a few caveats. If you are sleeping on your back:sleep

This is a great way to enhance the natural curves of your spine. With a pillow under your head, you protect the natural inward curve of your neck. If you have a reduced neck curve or a straightened or reversed curve in your neck, you will find that you will not be able to use a standard cushioned pillow as someone who has more of a natural curve to their neck. If you do have a reduced or reversed curve in your neck, it is important to still use a pillow to provide cushioning to the back of your neck. Remember gravity? Gravity always pushes down with the same force. Imagine sleeping on your back for eight hours every day of your life. Gravity is constantly pushing down with a force, trying to straighten the natural inward curve in your neck. A supportive pillow will help offset the stress of gravity pushing down, helping maintain the curve that you do have. Of course, with your regular chiropractic visits, a healthier functioning Nervous System will help you improve the natural curve in your neck so you will be able to graduate to more supportive pillows over time.

THE most important consideration when sleeping on your back is to put a pillow under your knees. Remember what I said about maintaining the natural curve in your neck? The same applies to your lower back! Think about gravity now pushing down on the inward curve of your lower back. Do you want to maintain the nice, supportive inward curve of your lower back, or do you want the curve in your lower back to straighten, inviting more stress and tension on your muscles, joints, and discs? Millions of Americans suffer from lower back pain. Just think of how beneficial it can be to spend eight hours a night promoting proper spinal assignment.

A few considerations about sleeping on your back. If you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea, you may want to try sleeping on your side. Studies have shown that sleeping on your back promotes snoring and sleep apnea.

Sleeping on your side:

This is the most common position that people sleep, and the most supportive. A few side sleeping considerations:

Sleep with a pillow between your knees. Just like back sleepers, sleeping on your side causes gravity to push down with a constant force on your hips. Would it make sense that gravity can cause less stress on your hips if your knees were separated by a pillow? YES! Place about a 6 inch thick pillow between your knees to reduce the stress of gravity on your hips and lower back. Sure the pillow may come out during the night, but this practice will be the necessary support for quality sleep on your side.

When sleeping on your side, do not curl up in a fetal position. It restricts diaphragmatic breathing. Your legs should be somewhere between straight and fetal, a gentle bend to your legs. Support your head with a comfortable pillow, which keeps your head level with your shoulders.

Worst position to sleep: Your stomach

So many patients have told me over the years that they sleep on their stomachs. It’s possible that this is a contributing factor to chronic neck and lower back pain. There are two reasons sleeping on your stomach is the worst position:

1 When you sleep on your stomach, unless you are sleeping on one of my tables, your head is turned to the side for eight hours. Imagine going through your work day with your head turned to the side the entire day. Could that create any subluxations? What would be the end result for your neck and shoulders? To me, it sounds like an invitation to chronic neck and shoulder pain.

2 Sleeping on your stomach puts more stress on all the curves of your spine. Stomach sleeping makes it difficult to maintain a neutral position with your spine. What’s more, the pose puts pressure on joints and muscles, which can irritate nerves and lead to pain, numbness, and tingling.

I hope your learned a few things about how to maximize your comfort and health for a very important period of your day, since you spend about one third of your life sleeping.

The Worst Thing you Can do if you Run

I just viewed a timely article from Posture Pro, the developers of the posture diagnostic program I use in my practice.FHP

The article shows the effect of Forward Head Posture (FHP) on the quality and quality of running. Now that I am in my yearly training period for the Bolder Boulder, I put this information to the test. Although I feel my posture is normal, I was aware of my head going forward when I would tire and also going uphill.

What the article emphasizes is that as your head goes forward while running, the extra weight puts pressure on your upper back to arch, creating chronic neck and shoulder pain. It also forces your arms to wing and come across your body in a scissors action, as opposed to pumping up and down.It causes osteoarthritis, as well as additional wear and tear on your joints. This morning I went on a long run and noticed a definite improvement of the quality of my breath as well as less wear and tear on my hips and upper back.

Just think, if you are a runner, and you are running several miles a day several day a week for most of the year, what accumulated effect is that having on your neck muscles, your upper back muscles, your respiratory system, your heart, your hips, and your legs? Do you think that accumulated wear and tear will break down your joints, as well as increase muscle tension and pain?

If you have great posture, you may be able to make these adjustments. If you have Forward Head Posture (FHP), you may not be able to make the improvements on your own. If you are not currently a patient, I recommend getting in touch with me. Let’s take some pictures of you, find out what the stress of your FHP is, and let’s put a plan together to help you reduce this significant stress on your body, and preserve your body the best that you can. To read the entire article, done very nicely with color photos and easy to follow thought process, click here HERE