More and more studies are coming out about the power of breathing correctly. Due to our everyday stresses, we have a tendency to breath from our chest. This causes a decrease in oxygen to the right places and untimely increases stress to our body. This type of chronic stress will affect your overall health and decrease your immune system.
What to do?
Practice! Practice! Practice!
You can do this either sitting or standing. You will place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. When you take that nice deep breath in, I want you to focus on pushing the hand that is on your belly out first. As you exhale, make sure you release all the air that you took in. People, who take deeps breaths in but don’t let all the air out, will increase carbon dioxide in the body. Counting while you do this will be helpful. If it takes you 3 seconds to breath in, make sure you exhale for 3 seconds as well. The goal is to get to 10 seconds each way! As you are practicing this exercise you want to make sure that the only hand that is moving is the one on your belly. Try to not move the hand that is on your chest at all.
Consciously practicing your belly breath will increase oxygen through out the body, decrease stress, and increase your health!
For all of you that still have some money in your flexible spending accounts, it is a good idea to make your appointments now. Most Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA’s) and Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSA’a) have a use it or lose it policy. This means that any funds you have left in the account at the end of the year are lost if they are unused!
You can use your FSA’s or HSA’s at The Spine and Health Center of Montvale for anything from; copays, coinsurances and deductibles (for anyone who has not used their insurance this late in the year) to products such as Vitamins, Pillows, Backrests, Support Belts, Biofreeze, Stretch Straps, etc.
The Spine and Health Center of Montvale would like to make it easy for anyone to get the gift of health at our office, be it Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Acupuncture or Massage. Please don’t hesitate to make an appointment and let us know about any funds left on you Flexible Spending Accounts that you would like to utilize in our office before you lose it! If you have any questions about your accounts we will be available to talk.
I saw this from a website that I subscribe to (bonfire health) and I liked it so I am going to share it with you:
Critical Concepts: Lack of movement promotes stress.
There are many well-understood benefits of movement and activity, including improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, lean muscle mass and strength, balance, tone and appearance. Science is now grasping the depth of the role of exercise in the realm of prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, CVD and obesity. The latest research is now painting a broader picture for the benefits of movement in the realm of neurology, development and optimal health.
The primary purpose of movement and activity is to develop and condition the brain (Dr. John J. Ratey, Spark).
Our nervous system is an incredibly complex network of communication fibers and junctions that allow us to relate and adapt to our internal and external environments. The nervous system, made up of the brain, the spinal cord and miles of nerves, depends on movement to restore the body to homeostasis – or a state of general balance and equilibrium.
This resting state is critical to health and healing. Our lives have become frantic. We rush through our days, seemingly never having enough time to complete tasks, slow down to eat, or relax and unwind. So often we are stressed out in traffic or sitting in front of a computer or on the phone. Most people spend far too much time in the “Go State” – fight or flight. This constant Sympathetic Stress State keeps stress hormones coursing through our veins, wreaking havoc on our health.
One vital function of movement is its ability to “re-set” our nervous system from a “stress state” to a “rest and repair” state.
The cerebellum is the area of the brain that monitors movement. The “body sense” that is derived from movement is called proprioception. This body sense provides more data to our brain than all of our other incoming senses combined. It is described by Nobel Prize Winner Roger Sperry as a brain nutrient. The information is derived from the compression of spring-like mechanoreceptors in your joints. When you move, they send signals to your brain.
This cerebella stimulation from movement of our joints will actually drive the body away from a stress state and back toward a rest and repair state. This critical homeostatic mechanism is responsible for returning your body to a state of equilibrium. In other words, movement reduces stress.
Lack of movement promotes stress.
If you live a sedentary life, you miss out on this effective “stress-buster.” People who exercise regularly report less stress in their lives and experience fewer stress-related health problems. Exercise has the additional benefits of increasing neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that promote happiness, better sleep and increased sex drive.
Poor posture and fixed positions can create stress in the body. Toxic and deficient movement patterns promote core weakness, muscle strain, inflammation and structural dysfunction. When joints do not move properly, they create irritation to the nervous system that acts a lot like “static” or noise in our communication network. This noxious stimulation or nociception changes the brain’s function and influences the body’s chemistry. This type of joint dysfunction and associated nerve irritation is called “subluxation.”
Subluxations can occur in any joint, but the most devastating are found in the joints of the spine. These spinal misalignments can be caused by trauma or bad habits (or both), and their ill effects on your health can be profound. A distinctive quality of subluxation is joint fixation. When a joint is fixed or “stuck” and not moving through its normal range of motion, a host of problems can arise. Joint decay and degeneration (arthritis) occurs when a joint is not moving properly. If a joint is fixated, proprioception (Body Sense) is reduced and nociception (noise) is increased – both of which promote stress in the body.
Healthy people practice regular spinal hygiene by utilizing the Life Extension Exercises. A Bonfire best practice is to implement these into your daily routine to combat stationary work and postural stress. Best results are achieved if you do this one-minute routine at least once every two hours at the computer or work station. Nudge yourself into better habits by auditing your workstation for postural stress (read more here). Make it a regular habit to get up and walk during your day. It is very unnatural for you to sit for extended periods of time – no matter how important the project. Dr. James Chestnut suggests a brilliant nudge: position yourself perfectly while sitting at the wheel in your car and then adjust your mirrors. If you slouch during your drive, the mirrors will remind you to sit up.
A vital behavior for optimal health and function is to have your spine and nervous system evaluated regularly by a qualified chiropractor. These doctors have a unique training and specialization in locating and correcting spinal misalignments that contribute to spinal stress. This safe and effective method has been practiced widely for over one hundred years, and is now the second largest form of health care in the world.
Your brain and body expect and require movement for health – for life. Get to it.
Here are some tips I provide to patient’s to take home with them after their Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Acupuncture or Massage Treatments:
1. Be brutally honest about your posture. You may think it’s pretty good, but if you are having neck-and-shoulder pain, headaches, issues with arms and hands, or if a bump is forming at the base of your neck, something needs to change. Breathing problems could even be related to curled-in chests. Don’t blame it on your bed or your genetics; you didn’t inherit a bad posture gene, you inherited the habit. The pain is there to show us where our body needs attention and maintenance. Listen to it and use it. It’s impossible to be completely honest about how your posture looks just by seeing yourself in a mirror. Each of us subconsciously adjusts our posture when we look in the mirror. To be truly honest about our posture, we need to accidentally see a side view of ourselves in a window or reflective surface of some kind as we’re walking by. That is where you’ll see the real truth.
2. Stop thinking about your shoulders. Change your focus. Instead of concentrating on your shoulders, work on keeping your chest up and open. Your body will look better, function better and be more comfortable in the long run. You may even be able to breathe and digest food better.
Make sure to pop your chest up, not out. Visualize a string attached to the top of your sternum, pulling it up, and another string on the top of your head. Use your abs to help. When doing this, be careful not to create a curve in your low back.
3. Activate your abs. Use your core to help keep your chest up and open while allowing your arms and shoulders to simply relax back to where they’re supposed to be. This exercise is ideal to practice while sitting at a computer, and it helps keep you from curling in. It’s also effective while moving and working out. If you are doing any type of upper-body lifting in your workout, make sure your abs are tight and your chest is up as high as possible. If you don’t, you will work incorrect muscles and make your neck and shoulders worse.
4. Stretch your pecs and arms. Stretch your arms in every direction: up, down, out, across the body, above your head. Do what feels good.
5. Arm circles. This is a simple exercise to help with neck-and-shoulder tension. Arm circles stretch and work the muscles at the same time. Make sure you activate your abs and get your chest up as high as you can, first. Use your thumbs. If you point them like your hitchhiking while you do your circles, it helps keep your arms straight for a better stretch.
6. Shake it out. Unless the pain you’re having is related to an actual injury, the worst thing you can do is protect or baby it. Unless the muscle is torn or has received some sort of impact, the only thing to blame is our subconscious holding habits and repetitive actions. I realize when we first feel pain in the shoulders, arms and hands, our first instinct is to protect it and stabilize it. It hurts because it’s stuck, and it’s no longer receiving the flow that it needs. Start shaking gently, then build up to shaking them as hard as you can, for as long as you can. Then stretch. Don’t wait until you have time to do yoga or an extended stretching session. If it’s stuck or sore, shake it out, move it, stretch it right then and there.
7. Turn your hands up while you run, or slightly forward while you walk. It pops your chest up and open. When you do any sort of extended walk, jog or run, pay attention to your form and moving correctly, rather than how far you go. While you’re moving is the best time to work on posture, form and body mechanics. If we change our patterns while we move, our muscles retrain themselves much faster.
8. Define posture. The definition of great posture is, getting out of our own way, leaning back, relaxing and letting our skeleton do its job. It’s about only using the muscles that are necessary for each movement we perform.
9. Pay attention to low-back pain. Believe it or not, low-back pain is usually caused by tension in the hips, glutes and upper legs. First, stop locking your legs together. Stretch your legs in every direction you can. This includes quads, hamstrings, iliotibial bands—everything that attaches in the hips. Muscles stretch better if you warm them up with shaking first.
10. How do you walk? Another contributor to low-back pain relates to how our feet hit the ground when we walk. Most of us turn our feet too far out when we walk; some people turn too far in, but it’s less common. Either way, most of us also walk or run while putting all of our weight on the outer (lateral) edge of our feet. When we do this every day, the musculature on the outside of our legs becomes overdeveloped and creates a huge pull on our sacrum, causing low-back curvature and pain.
Work on lengthening and strengthening your inner (medial) leg muscles. Every time your feet hit the ground, the entire palm of your foot should touch. Think about keeping your feet straight and putting your weight more in the middle, or core. If you do this, you will see a difference in the musculature of your legs, as well as experience less low-back pain.
11. Keep your hip joint straight and get your belly weight off of your hips. It’s important when you do this to not lock your knees. Visualize pulling the front of your body straight up from the arches of your feet to your sternum. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is taught that yin (feminine) energy runs up the front of the body, while yang (masculine) energy runs down the back of your body. Visualize your body moving up in the front of the body with each inhale, and down the back of the body with each exhale.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that the five moves below dramatically reduced neck pain and increased neck strength in female office workers. For the best results, complete at least three sessions a week. (A session consists of three sets of three of the moves listed here; for each set, repeat the exercise ten to 12 times.)
1. Shoulder Shrug
Stand, holding a pair of two-pound dumbbells at your sides. Keeping your neck straight, slowly lift up your shoulders toward your ears and lower them again. Repeat.
2. One-Arm Row
With a dumbbell in your left hand, stand at the left side of a knee-high workout bench. Set your right knee on the bench and bend at the waist, setting your right palm on the front of the bench for balance. Your left arm should be straight, palm facing in, with the weight hanging toward the ground. Slowly pull up the weight toward your chest, then gently lower and repeat. Switch sides and repeat with the opposite arm.
3. Upright Row
Stand holding a weight in each hand, resting the weights on your thighs, palms facing your body. Bending at the elbows, slowly lift up the dumbbells to chest height (your elbows should point slightly up, not straight out to either side). Keep the weights close to your body and your neck relaxed and straight. Lower gently and repeat.
4. Reverse Fly
Reposition your bench so it’s at a 45-degree angle to the floor. With a weight in each hand, straddle the seat and press your chest against the raised end of the bench. Extend your arms toward the floor, palms facing in. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, extend the weights out to your sides until your arms are parallel to the floor. Slowly lower and repeat.
5. Shoulder Abduction
Stand holding the weights at your sides, pressed against your thighs. With your elbows slightly bent, extend the weights out to your sides until your arms are parallel to the floor, palms down. Keep your neck straight and relaxed. In a smooth motion, lower and repeat.
We want to welcome everyone to our new website and our new blog. We are very excited to use this space to update you on many interesting topics about getting and staying healthy. We will be sending you up to date information from the news headlines to top research articles to find you the best health and wellness information that we think everyone should know. We want you to know the information that can really change your life… Supplements that you should take to avoid heart disease? How to add years to your life with food and diet? The five stretches that can prevent low back pain.
In other words, practical essential information that we all need to know to live a healthier and longer life.
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The Doctors & Staff at The Spine and Health Center of Montvale