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.
If you’ve been following the recent news stories and research, you know that Opioid use is becoming more and more rampant.
Here are some facts:
1 The US consumes more than 80% of the global Opioid pill production even though it has less than 5% of the world’s population.
2 In 2015, almost 40% of Americans were using prescription painkillers. 1
3 100 million people are estimated to suffer from chronic pain in the US. 2
4 Nearly ½ of all US Opiod overdose deaths are due to prescription opiods. 3
Why are Opiates addictive?
Opiates can be found in several widely-used drugs including: heroin, morphine, codeine and hydrocodone. Opiates create artificial endorphins in the brain -which produce in the early stages of use warm, good feelings in the user. But over time, opiates trick the brain into stopping the production of these endorphins naturally. At this point, the only way an opiate addict can experience positive feelings is by using the drug in question. This process is the reason why opiates are so addictive.
Why has Opiate addiction increased drastically in the last 10 years?
Here’s the generally accepted theory-
Starting in the late 1990s, a handful of pharmaceutical corporations promoted prescription opiates as the solution to America’s physical pain. Large numbers of people then started to take these drugs — and because Oxycontin and Percocet and the rest have such powerful chemical hooks, many found themselves addicted. Doctors in many parts of the world — including Canada and some European countries — prescribe more powerful opiates than their peers in the United States. If what we’ve been told is right, they should become addicted in huge numbers. But this doesn’t occur. The Canadian physician Gabor Maté argues in his book “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” that studies examining the medicinal use of narcotics for pain relief find no significant risk of addiction.4
Here’s a second theory that makes more sense to me –
Opiate use is climbing because people feel more distressed and disconnected, and are turning to anesthetics to cope with their psychological pain.
Addiction rates are not spread evenly across the United States, as you would expect if chemical hooks were the primary cause. On the contrary, addiction is soaring in areas such as the Rust Belt, the South Bronx and the forgotten towns of New England, where people there say they are lonelier and more insecure than they have been in living memory.
So if you agree with the second theory, opiate use is increasing because people feel more distressed and disconnected.
Wow! If this is the case, and you are faced with the choice of becoming more distressed and disconnected and becoming addicted to opiates OR choosing to become MORE connected and less distressed, which would you choose?
If your answer is #2, then please, if you know someone who is distressed and disconnected from an inability to adapt to their accumulated physical, chemical and emotional stress, let them know they have healthier options! You could very well help save the life of someone you know and care for.
Thanks for taking a major step towards becoming more connected and less distressed about your health and life.
1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Results From the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed
2 Tables. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015.pdf. Published September 2016. Accesssed March 27, 2017.
3 Opioid Data Analysis. Opioid Overdose. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/analysis.html. Accessed March 27, 2017.
Whether it is down to work pressure, money worries or relationship troubles, most of us experience stress at some point in our lives. In fact, around 75% of people report experiencing moderate to high levels of stress over the past month. It is well known that stress can cause sleep problems, headache and raise the risk of depression. Here are some important ways in which stress can affect your health.
It is our response to this fight-or-flight response that determines our ability to successfully adapt, and thus, our ability to be healthy.
“Stress is caused by the loss or threat of loss of the personal, social and material resources that are primary to us. So, threat to self, threat to self-esteem, threat to income, threat to employment and threat to our family or our health,” Stevan Hobfoll, PhD, the Judd and Marjorie Weinberg presidential professor and chair at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL, and member of the American Psychological Association (APA), told Medical News Today.
Stress levels ‘too high’ in Americans
An annual survey by the APA, completed by 3,068 adults in the US during August 2014, revealed that the primary cause of stress among Americans is money, with 72% of respondents reporting feeling stressed about finances at some point over the past month. Of these, 22% said they had felt “extreme stress” in the past month as a result of money worries.
The second most common cause of stress among Americans was found to be work, followed by the economy, family responsibilities and personal health concerns.
On a positive note, average stress levels among Americans have decreased since 2007. On a 10-point scale, respondents rated their stress levels as 4.9, compared with 6.2 in 2007. However, the APA say such levels remain significantly higher than the 3.7 stress rating we consider to be healthy.
I know that when I ask new patients about their recent stress levels, a typical rating is anywhere from 6-10 with 10 being the worst, so if 3.7 is considered healthy, you need to develop the strategies to be able to ADAPT more successfully, as opposed to having less stress.
“[Last] year’s survey continues to reinforce the idea that we are living with a level of stress that we consider too high,” says Norman B. Anderson, CEO and executive vice president of the APA.
The surprising health implications of stress
“Stress is significantly associated with virtually all the major areas of disease,” Prof. Hobfoll told MNT. “Stress is seldom the root cause of disease, but rather interacts with our genetics and our state of our bodies in ways that accelerate disease.”
Some of the more well-known implications of stress that you may have experienced include sleep deprivation, headaches, anxiety and depression. But increasingly, researchers are uncovering more and more ways in which stress can harm our health.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), stress can influence behaviors that have negative implications for heart health.
One study found stress could increase heart attack risk by 23%.
Have you ever arrived home after a stressful day at work and reached for that bottle of wine? Many people have.
In January 2015, MNT reported on a study that found working long hours was associated with risky alcohol use, which the study researchers say is partly down to the belief that “alcohol use alleviates stress that is caused by work pressure and working conditions.”
You may be surprised to learn that stress has been associated with increased risk of diabetes. In January last year, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that women with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – a condition triggered by very distressing events – were more likely to develop diabetes than those without PTSD.
Periods of stress increase production of the hormone cortisol, which can increase the amount of glucose in the blood – a potential explanation for why stress has been linked to higher risk of diabetes.
For people who already have diabetes, stress can lead to poorer management of the condition. As well as interfering with stress hormones and increasing blood glucose levels, the American Diabetes Association note that stressed patients with diabetes may be less likely to take care of themselves.
“They may drink more alcohol or exercise less. They may forget, or not have time, to check their glucose levels or plan good meals,” states the organization.
While the exact causes of the condition are unclear, past studies have suggested that stress may contribute to its development.
A study found that for seniors with mild cognitive impairment, anxiety could speed up progression toward Alzheimer’s.
In March 2013, MNT reported on a study by researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, which found high levels of stress hormones in the brains of mice were associated with large amounts of beta amyloid plaques – proteins believed to play a role in Alzheimer’s.
Approximately 1 in 8 couples in the US have problems getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Increasingly, researchers are suggesting stress may be a contributing factor.
In May 2014, a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility that found stress in men can lead to reduced sperm and semen quality, which may negatively affect fertility.
How can you protect against stress-induced health problems?
Self talk, meditation, therapy, exercise, diet improvements are all great ways to protect against stress induced health problems. My recommendation?
Get yourself under Network Care stat! Or if you are currently under care, make a commitment to continue improving your health. Research regarding atients under Network Care have shown over time the ability to have:
- A greater ability to adapt to stress
- Better ability to recover
- Easier to implement diet and exercise programs
- More eager to meditate
Doesn’t it make sense that the more you can affect your master control system, your Nervous System, the healthier you can be, and safeguard to the best of your ability, the BEST ways to adapt to STRESS.
Physicians, neurosurgeons, and orthopedics alike have for years provided the recommended treatment for a herniated disc – Surgery. By the way, there’s no way I could have become a neurosurgeon – I can’t even look at pictures like this!
Recently, I came across an article from my friend, Dr. Danny Knowles, on research being done on Disc Regeneration, rather than Degeneration. The study, which was completed by Ming Zhong, MD, among others, published in Pain Physician, January 2017, found that lumbar disc herniation (LDH), a common disease, treated conservatively, frequently results in spontaneous resorption of the herniated disc. Their results represent the pooled results from 11 cohort studies. The overall incidence of spontaneous resorption after LDH was 66.66%. That means over 66% of Lumbar disc herniated resolved on its own, using conservative methods.
Just think of how many people choose more aggressive methods to remedy Disc Herniations. A quick check of surgical methods for lower back disc herniations revealed over six different types of surgical procedures. I have seen over the years how my patients with herniated discs respond favorably to non invasive chiropractic care. Once again, chiropractic care does not “fix” a herniated disc, any more than chiropractic “fixes” headaches, neck pain, sleeping problems or anxiety.
However, if your Nervous System, THE most important part of you, the part of you that controls and coordinates EVERY function in your body, is not functioning at its optimal level, thereby creating subluxations that affect your body’s ability to heal itself, then you will have a more difficult time healing from a problem such as a disc herniation. The better your Nervous System functions, the better your opportunity to heal.
Surgery certainly has its place in the medical world. The question that needs to be asked is, what are you giving up in the long term for a questionable short term gain? Keeping your NeuroSpinal system healthy helps you experience more of what you want in your life: freedom, joy, movement, increased function, and greater adaptability. If someone you know and care for is experiencing disc herniations or health challenges in general, please let them know they have choices. While you are doing that, please pass my name along so they can make a better educated choice on the options they have.