Shoulder pain is common. If fact, it’s highly likely that many of you reading this currently have or have had a shoulder injury, as studies suggest that about 90% of us will tear our rotator cuff, labrum, and/or capsule at some point in time during our lives. So why is this so common? More importantly, what can be done about this?
Let’s face it. Your posture is a window into how your body is functioning. All you need to do is go to a busy store and look at people’s posture, and you can make a quick judgement on who seems healthy and who doesn’t.
Research shows that poor posture can affect lung capacity, heart function, and overall life expectancy!1,2
That’s in addition to the commonly experienced problems such as neck and upper back tension and pain, headaches, energy loss, and sleeping problems. What steps can you take towards improving your posture? Here are five easy steps you can take to improve your posture, your organ function, your energy level, and your life expectancy:
1 Simple stretching –
Simple stretching – when your head is in a forward position from the center of your body, it is important to emphasize extension, or backward movement of your head. Stand erect, bend your head forward for a few seconds, then bring your head backwards for a five seconds. You want to engage both movements but emphasize the backward movement for a longer time. Go back and forth five times, two or three times per day. Only go backward to your limit. See how that improves over a few weeks.
2 Yoga – Simple yoga postures that everyone can do.
Cat/Cow – on your hands and knees on the floor. Cat – inhale, arch up like a cat, hold for five seconds, then cow, exhale, let your belly sink to the floor. Hold for five seconds. Repeat five times two to three times per day.
Speaking of yoga, keep an eye on our upcoming “Yoga, Muffins and Mimosas” that I will be hosting at the newly opened Yoga Pod just a few doors down on 30th Street. You definitely will want to be there.
3 Fuller breathing – Esther Gokhale produces a great program on posture and awareness. Here is a tip from her on breathing.
Lengthen your spine: Adding extra length to your spine is easy, Gokhale says. Being careful not to arch your back, take a deep breath in and grow tall. Then maintain that height as you exhale. Repeat: Breathe in, grow even taller and maintain that new height as you exhale. “It takes some effort, but it really strengthens your abdominal muscles,” Gokhale says.
4 You and your Phone – Think about how many times a day and for how long a time you look down at you phone. Or maybe you don’t want to think of that. Constantly craning your neck down to stare at your phone is damaging your posture. Try holding your phone in front of you instead of bending your head down, and similarly propping your tablet up perpendicular to the table if you’re just reading.
5 Workstation ergonomics – Your desktop position, your laptop position, your chair and your position in your chair are all important factors regarding your seated posture. Here is a LINK to give you some tips on proper ergonomics.
Oh, am I forgetting something? Yes, your Network chiropractic care! I have been so fortunate to witness thousands of patients’ posture improve over the years through a healthier functioning Nervous System. If you are currently under care, great for you! If not, take action now to prevent an unhealthy future. Pain, tension, and diseaase are not the place you want to end up.
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!”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
-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.
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.
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!
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 second 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!