Chiropractic for Runners

With more and more people taking up recreational running in the US, the number of running associated injuries has also increased. Commonly reported cases include shin splints, patellofermoral pain syndromes, Achilles tendinitis, flat feet, and compartmental syndromes and stress fractures. All these injuries are a result of cumulative stress reactions to soft tissues and bones. While running, the musculoskeletal system may absorb up to 250-300% of the runner’s weight on the heel strike, and this exerts stress on the body.

running injury

Chiropractors can help to alleviate pain and non-specific symptoms associated with running, usually from the gradual onset of regular stress on the soft tissues and bones. If these symptoms are caught early, they can then be effectively managed and reduced in a short period of time. Chiropractic treatment can help excessive pronation, the inward rolling of the hind foot and the midfoot beyond the acceptable parameters of general walking and running; prolonged internal rotation of the internal extremity, the inward rotation of the femur, which transmits stress to the pelvic region; and excessive supination, and those with very high arches who are very sensitive to stress reactions and fractures.  

While chiropractic treatment can help with pain and injuries, its biggest advantage to runners and athletes is preventive care. Many runners, athletes and non-athletes may ask – why pay for chiropractic treatment when there is no pain to treat? It’s much easier to maintain good health and prevent injury than to treat somebody already in pain. The danger with running injuries is that they are likely to be caused by repetitive stress and alignment problems that take time to develop, and an even longer time for the pain to start. If our bodies stayed in perfect alignment, then we would be able to cope with the regular stress running delivers. However, very few of us have perfect alignment, and in many cases those with flat feet or high arches are at risk to extra cumulative stress to the body.

In preventive cases, Dr. Carly can give a good overall evaluation, teaching the patient how to prevent injuries and maintain good alignment – thereby reducing the chance of injury. For those looking for preventive treatment, she can help assess and evaluate your condition by offering scans of your feet, testing for strength imbalances and an analysis of your posture. In addition, the chiropractor can also suggest a program suited to your needs to prevent injury in the future.

Every body is different. If you have questions about this article or whether chiropractic is an appropriate choice for your specific situation, please ask. We are here to help!

 

Tips for Cold Weather Exercise

No need to be stuck in the gym all winter long! Exercising out in the fresh winter air can be healthy and invigorating. The American Council on Exercise encourages people to get outside to exercise even when the weather is cold, as long as they take proper precautions to avoid hypothermia. Those who have asthma or heart problems may wish to check with their doctor before beginning a cold-weather exercise program if they feel it could be an issue.

Check the temperature AND the wind chill – The US National Safety Council advises that exercising in temperatures 20°F and above is generally safe. However, there is an increased risk of hypothermia in temperatures below that, particularly if there is a wind chill involved. Be sure to check the weather conditions before setting out.

Dress in layers – Obviously, you want to dress warmly so as to avoid hypothermia, but you also do not want to become overheated and sweat excessively. Dressing in layers allows you to remove a layer as you become warmer, and also is better at keeping out the wind and cold. The layer closest to your skin should be a light layer of synthetic material that will wick away moisture from your skin and that will dry quickly. The next layer should be of polyester fleece or wool to keep you warm, and the top layer should be a lightweight waterproof shell.

Cover your head and neck – Half of your body’s heat is lost through your head, so be sure to cover it with a warm hat. Even better is something like a balaclava that will keep your head, neck, ears and much of your face warm as you exercise.

Wear mittens – Although insulated gloves can keep your hands warm, mittens are sometimes a better option, as your fingers being enclosed in the same space help to keep each other warm. You can also insert disposable hand warmers into your mittens before you set out and you’ll be good to go for hours.

Wear appropriate footgear – In snow and ice, injuries from falls are far more common and can put your exercise routine on hold for weeks. In slippery conditions, be sure you have footgear that has a good grip. Nonslip devices such as Yaktrax attach to your workout shoes to give you more traction on packed snow and ice.

Keep hydrated – Even in chilly conditions it is important to remember to drink water as you exercise. You still sweat and lose water through evaporation and through your breath, so be sure to take regular water breaks during your workout. Keep your water bottle in an inside pocket of your clothing to keep it from freezing.

By keeping these cold weather exercise tips in mind, you can enjoy the winter weather and stay fit year-round!

Active and standing work stations

Close-Up on Active Workstations

 

The health hazards inherent in sitting for hours at a time are becoming increasingly well documented, even if those hours are sandwiched between bouts of serious exercise. Long time periods spent sitting increase your risk of chronic neck and back pain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Two recent studies published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that the more time subjects spent sitting, the shorter their lifespan, regardless of if they exercised regularly. So what is an office worker who is required to spend hours at a desk to do? One option that has been gaining some followers is to use “active workstations.”

Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. James A. Levine has been studying the effects of inactivity for 15 years, beginning at a time when this area of research was something of a novelty. “But it’s totally mainstream now. There’s been an explosion of research in this area, because the health care cost implications are so enormous,” Levine says.

Active workstations allow you to stand and sometimes even walk while working at your computer. Another popular item is the inflatable “stability ball,” which is similar to an exercise ball. When the user sits on it, the effort to remain upright and stable on the ball theoretically keeps the muscles of the back and abdomen more active than when sitting in a chair.

There is now more demand for workstations that adjust to accommodate the worker either sitting or standing. Some have even been developed with a treadmill so you can walk while writing the annual report. There has been a fivefold increase in sales over the past five years in adjustable desks and treadmill desks, according to manufacturer Steelcase, which caters to the high end of the workstation market.

While active workstations may help to get you moving, they have their downsides as well. One is the increased levels of inaccuracy that show up in the work you are doing. Eleven medical transcriptionists were observed during a 2011 Mayo Clinic study to determine the benefits of active workstations. The researchers found that accuracy and typing speed were 16% lower when walking than when sitting. Another study performed by researchers at the University of Tennessee found that cognitive function such as problem solving and fine motor skills such as dragging and dropping and clicking with a computer mouse deteriorated by 11% while walking on a treadmill. And of workers who stand all day, 83% have a greater risk of chronic vein problems.

Here’s the good news.  You don’t need an active workstation to reduce the number of hours of continual sitting you do. It’s relatively easy to incorporate more movement into your everyday work activities. For example, put your wastebasket on the opposite side of the room, use a cordless phone so you can walk around while talking, walk over to a colleague’s desk instead of calling them on the phone or sending an e-mail, or even just do a few stretches at your desk. This will increase the benefits you get from movement without the downsides of using an active workstation.  If you're having pain from sitting while at work, Dr. Carly May Zuehlke is trained to properly assess the dysfunction and give you exercises to keep you pain free.

Olympic Trials for Track and Field

I just got back from 5 days working as medical staff at the Olympic time trials for Track and Field.  It was a pleasure to work with the top doctors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, physical therapists, and chiropractors to ensure the athletes were performing at their best.

 

 

Why muscle relaxers are not the answer to your back or neck pain

This week I’ve had two patients ask for muscle relaxers to help them sleep.  They didn’t even request it to help calm a muscle spasm.  It’s not in the scope of practice for a chiropractor to prescribe a muscle relaxer.  But honestly, why would you ever want one? If your back hurts that bad, even after your chiropractic appointment, and you really need to take something…I would recommend an over-the-counter to help with some pain relief.  Or if you’re in the state of Colorado, go find a dispensary.

Why do muscles spasm? I like to refer to the analogy of the chicken and the egg.  Did the joint stop moving properly and cause the surrounding muscle to spasm, or did the muscle tighten up and cause the joint to lock up?  In either case, you want to treat both the joint and the muscular dysfunction.  Improper movement, poor posture, repetitive movements are all things that can cause dysfunction.   Doesn’t it make sense to spend the time addressing the real issue than attempt to get the muscle to relax with a pill?

Muscle relaxers cause all the muscles in your body to relax, including the ones that create stability along the spine.  Once you take away that stability, how can you ever expect those muscles to work properly and engage throughout your daily movements.

One of the worst things I see patient do when their back hurts is to take a muscle relaxer, rest on the couch (usually in a poor spinal position) and then try and get up hours later.  Quite frankly, they just can’t.   This is usually the moment that their spine gives out and they start calling the office because they cannot move.

Movement is medicine.  Movement is my prescription for every ailment the body may have.  Even when your back hurts, you should be able to go for a walk or do some basic core strengthening exercises.  If you want to find out the real reason your back hurts, then call us at Denver Sports and Family Chiropractic Center.  We promise not to just put a Band-Aid on the problem, but to keep it from coming back for good.

Favorite Running Quotes

Running Quotes

·      The gun goes off and everything changes…the world changes…and nothing else really matters. ~ Patti Sue Plummer

·      "It hurts up to a point and then it doesn't get any worse."   - Ann Trason

·      "Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing.  You have to make the mind run the body.  Never let the body tell the mind what to do.  The body will always give up.  It is always tired morning, noon, and night.  But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.  When you were younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tired...You've always got to make the mind take over and keep going."  - George S. Patton, 1912 Olympian

·      "That is the sort of race which one really enjoys - to feel at one's peak on the day when it is necessary, and to be able to produce the pace at the very finish.  It gives a thrill which compensates for months of training and toiling.  But it is the sort of race that one wants only about once a season."   - Jack Lovelock

·      "I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds.  Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart."  - club coach

·      "To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who's never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind." Jerome Drayton

·      "I run because it's my passion, and not just a sport. Every time I walk out the door, I know why I'm going where I'm going and I'm already focused on that special place where I find my peace and solitude. Running, to me, is more than just a physical exercise...it's a consistent reward for victory!"
Sasha Azevedo, Runner Athlete

·      "Coming off the last turn, my thoughts changed from 'One more try, one more try, one more try...' to 'I can win! Ican win! Ican win!'" -Billy Mills

·      People can't understand why a man runs. They don't see any sport in it. Argue it lacks the sight and thrill of body contact.  Yet, the conflict is there, more raw and challenging than than any man versus man competition.  For in running it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents.  The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability, with brain and heart to master himself and his emotions. - Glenn Cunningham 

·      There is a moment in every race.  A moment where you can either quit, fold, or say to yourself "I can do this."  -Gatorade Ad

·      Why Do You Run? Because you're wondering if your grandchildren will too.  Because its raining.  Because you can, and others can't.  Because its faster than walking.  Because that shaky-leg-thing is all about nervous energy.  Because you can't fly.  Because you can fly.  Because your personal best is just that, yours.  Because the pain of a blister is nothing compared to the pain of stopping.  Because you like the resistance the wind gives you.  Because you like the resistance you give the wind.  Just Because. -NYC Marathon Ad

·      Its only 3 miles, but somehow you come out of it having gone much further.
-Footlocker

Treating Upper and Lower Crossed Syndromes

source: Human Kinetics 2010

source: Human Kinetics 2010

General rules for treating Upper and Lower Crossed syndromes:

·         Stretch the tight and strengthen the weak

·         Almost all injuries can be linked back to this pattern & can easily be avoided by following rules above

·         Proper range of motion is necessary before adding strength and power.

·         Core exercises are necessary:

o   The best exercises are the ones where the spine is neutral.  Avoid sit-ups and crunches.  Instead do planks, dead bug, bird dog, stir-the-pot. 

·         Remember, each person’s injury is unique and there’s not just one way to treat an injury.  You should be evaluated to make sure that you’re appropriately stretching and strengthening the right muscles.  Make sure the provider you see treats the dysfunction and not just the pain, otherwise the problem will continue.
 

At Denver Sports and Family Chiropractic Center, we treat the body as a whole and have great success with treating overuse syndromes.  

How to incorporate your dog into your workout routine

If you're anything like me, then you'll know that there's nothing better than a run outside with your pet on a sunny day.  But, there are times when that's not possible.  I've come up with some clever exercises that you can do with your furry friends indoors.

In between the exercises, I alternate between chasing Jake (my dog) around the room in circles, kettlebell swings, and jumping jacks.  I'll also throw in other full bodyweight exercises such as lunges, push press, and planks.

 

 

This is Jake, a 1 year old doberman, king charles spaniel, and american staffs terrier mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posterior Chain Activation
Your job is to engage the core and hold steady while your dog attempts to pull you.  This forces you to use the core, glutes, and hamstrings in an isometric contraction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bicep Curl
Engage the core, with an abdominal brace, and pull up into a bicep curl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squat to bicep curl
Squat down, using proper form and keeping the spine neutral.  Then, lift the dog into a bicep curl.  Release, and repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upright row
Sit into a squat position, engage the core, and pull back using rhomboids and upper back.

Alternative methods to treatment, other than surgery

 

            Most people assume that chiropractors just treat backs.  Others are aware that we also treat extremities such as knees, shoulders and ankles.  Those that have experienced chiropractic care understand that what I actually do is improve my patients’ quality of life. 

            Joan came into the office complaining about pain in both of her shoulders.  Eight months prior to this visit, her MRI demonstrated a full thickness rotator cuff tear on the left and a partial thickness tear on the right.  She underwent surgery to repair the left, which involved resurrecting a portion of her clavicle, and injections were placed into the right to help avoid a surgery there.  The surgeon sent her home without any instructions and told her to wait a few weeks before beginning physical therapy.  During that time, the local inflammation in her shoulder caused adhesions to develop in her joint capsule, known as adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder.  When she returned to the surgeon’s office, the surgeon began crying and apologizing for not performing the surgery correctly.  A post-surgery MRI revealed that there was still an osteophyte remaining that had not been removed and swelling inside the glenohumeral joint.  The surgeon even offered to do another surgery at no cost, but Joan insisted on another doctor’s opinion.  The other surgeon agreed that another surgery was necessary, but Joan was too preoccupied to have another surgery at that time.  She started doing some stretches and swimming on her own, showing vast improvement before beginning treatment with me.

            During her first exam, nearly every motion was limited.  In order to lift her arm to the side, she would have to use her entire body to do it, and the motion itself was extremely painful.  With each treatment, Active Release Technique was performed to the muscles of the rotator cuff, as well as the joint capsule.  Gentle mobilizations were performed to her scapula, upper back, and neck to ensure proper movement.  To supplement her treatments, rehabilitation exercises were given to help strengthen the area and her core. 

            At her eighth visit, her range of motion was 90% improved and she was beginning to get strength back.  On her tenth visit, muscle definition was becoming obvious and she was extremely strong and pain free.  Joan confided in me that the reason she had short hair was because she had difficulty washing it herself, due to the limited motion in her shoulders.  Due to our sessions in the office, she was also swimming better and more consistently, had less pain at night while sleeping and was able to play with her grandkids.  I improved the quality of her life. 

            The intention of this story isn’t to condemn the medical field or the work that surgeons do.  After running the Chicago marathon, I developed knee pain that eventually led to an extremely successful surgery.  However, being the stubborn sports chiropractor that I am, I spent over a year and a half trying to fix the pain myself first. 

            I want to bring awareness to the fact that there are alternative methods to conservatively treat injuries that should be tried before surgery.  Chiropractic adjustments enable proper movement and biomechanics; ART allows proper muscle movement; rehabilitation helps strengthen the muscle imbalances.  Together, there are very few injuries that can’t be treated this way.  From my experience, before electing surgery, conservative care should always be attempted first.  Even if you need to go in for the surgery, you will recover quicker from the strengthening done beforehand.

Use of Chiropractic Among Professional Athletes

Chiropractic care is an important tool in the arsenal of any professional athlete. It has been shown to help reduce injuries, speed healing time and improve performance.

A number of professional American sports teams have a chiropractor on staff, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, PBA, Nascar and more professional golfers routinely use a chiropractor during tournaments, as golf can produce a great amount of stress on the vertebrae due to twisting. Well-known professional athletes such as Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana and many others have reported how they have benefited from chiropractic treatment.

A study conducted in 1991 by researchers Anthony Lauro and Brian Mouch, which was published in The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation, found that athletes under chiropractic treatment were able to improve their performance an average of 10.6% over six weeks and 16.7% over a period of 12 weeks. The researchers noted that, as the study was only 12 weeks in duration, and athletic performance continued to improve during that time, it is possible that further enhancement may be possible with longer chiropractic treatment, though at what point improvement would level off is still unknown.

Another study reported in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research in 1997, which evaluated the performance of baseball players, found a marked increase in athletic performance, including an increase in capillary counts, after 14 weeks in the group that was receiving upper cervical chiropractic adjustments. In regard to the effect of chiropractic care on these athletes, the researchers concluded that, “it is evident that changes were measurable in regard to physical strength, tests of athletic ability such as the long jump, and microcirculation.”

Athletes under chiropractic care have faster reaction time, better coordination and achieve more accurate and precise fine movements, all of which contribute to better performance.

There are a large number of high-impact sports that exert a lot of stress on the spine. It is quite easy for the vertebrae to become misaligned during a football tackle, during competitive wrestling or in a Nascar race that involves excessive g-force. When this happens, it can disrupt nerve transmissions from the nerves in the spinal cord, resulting in limited range of motion, slower reaction time, headaches, inflammation and slower recovery from injuries.

Chiropractic adjustments reduce irritation to the roots of the nerve in the spinal column, which allows for greater range of motion and joint flexibility. In addition, joint pain is alleviated and blood circulation is increased, which supplies the body’s muscles and organs with oxygen.

Every body is different. If you have questions about this article or whether chiropractic is an appropriate choice for your specific situation, contact Denver Chiropractor, Dr. Carly May. 

What is the best warm-up for running?

Although a thorough warm-up may add time to your workout, it is an important part of your routine and should not be skipped or skimped upon. Runners who do not adequately warm up prior to training are at greater risk of injury and poor performance. Ann Alayanak, a coach from the University of Dayton who earned seventh place at the U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in 2008 says, “A proper warm-up increases heart rate, breathing rate, and blood flow to the muscles. It prepares the body for increasingly vigorous activity, allows it to work more efficiently and reduces injury risk by loosening you up.”

Following are some recommendations from the American Running Association for the best warm-up exercises to prepare you for running, whether you are only a casual runner or are training for the Olympics:

  1. Keeping your legs slightly bent, jump rope for a few minutes, landing on the balls of your feet and flexing your ankles to push off the ground.
  2. Starting with your knees bent at about 30 degrees, slowly lower yourself into a half-squat, and slowly rise up again. Repeat 5 times.
  3. With your knees flexed about 45 degrees, hop approximately 3 feet from side to side, keeping your knees flexed and landing as lightly as possible.
  4. Stand on a surface that is slanted upwards, rise up onto the balls of your feet and hold the position for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  5. Walk or sprint up and down a set of stairs. If stairs are not readily available, you can use a box for stepping up and down.
  6. Put your hand on a chair (or a wall) next to you for balance and raise one leg while simultaneously bending the opposite knee until you are in a half-squat on one leg. Repeat with the opposite leg, then do another 15 to 20 reps.
  7. While leaning with your back to a wall, with your feet approximately a foot away from it, lift your toes and the balls of your feet as high as you can, pivoting from the ankle. Lower your toes near the floor, without touching it, then lift them again. After repeating this 15 to 20 times, rest for 20 seconds, and do another set.
  8. Do 10 sets of lunges, alternating legs each time. Try to keep your knee from bending more than 90 degrees, keeping the knee positioned directly above your heel. The leg behind you should be slightly bent.
  9. Starting with your knees slightly bent, dip down then jump up as high as possible, coming down with your knees bent, and immediately jumping up again. Continue jumping up and down like this 10 times, then rest for about 30 seconds and repeat the set once or twice more.

Proper Seat Positioning

At Denver Sports and Family Chiropractic Center, we have found that often times we treat patients and resolve their pain.  However, by the time they drive home from their visit, their pain has come back. Driving can aggravate pain in your lower back or be a contributing cause of chronic back pain. Driving for extended periods of time can put a lot of stress on the spine, as the normal lumbar curvature is easily disturbed by the typical driving position. Add to that the bumping and jostling from traveling over uneven road surfaces and speed bumps and you’ve got a recipe for back pain. Following are some tips to help you adjust your driver’s seat to the optimal placement for driving.

 

  1. Position yourself properly in the seat – To do this, ensure that you are sitting as far back in the seat as possible, so that your buttocks are almost wedged between the seat and the seat back.
  2. Adjust the distance between the seat and steering wheel ­– Move the seat forward so you can fully depress both the brake and clutch, while still keeping your knees slightly bent. Your leg should ideally maintain an angle of approximately 120 degrees. If your leg is either straight or at a 90-degree angle, your seat needs to be moved either closer or further back.
  3. Adjust the tilt of the seat – Tilt your seat forwards or backwards until you feel that your leg from hip to knee is fully supported while having your foot on the gas pedal, without feeling that the seat is pressing uncomfortably into the back of the leg.
  4. Adjust the back of the seat ­– Your seat should be at an angle that fully supports the length of your back. It should not be reclined too far, as this can cause you to have to bend your head and neck forward at an angle in order to see the road.
  5. Move the steering wheel – You should move the steering wheel toward you until it is close enough for your hands to reach the 10 and 2 position, while keeping your arms slightly bent. Having it too close can be dangerous in an accident, but you also don’t want it so far away that you are straining to reach it. It should be tilted at an angle so your hands are just a little lower than your shoulders.
  6. Adjust the head restraint – The bottom of the head restraint should be level with the base of your skull and should be about an inch from your head while driving, in order to avoid whiplash in case of an accident.

If your car has a lumbar support feature, adjust it so it supports the lumbar area without pressing into your back. If you don’t have this feature, one or two rolled towels can be used to support the lumbar area.

Try to be sure your knee does not drop to the side while you drive, as this can cause some aggravation to the nerves in the lower back, which can lead to pain in the hip, knee and foot. Pull the knee in to keep it in line with your body.

Many of these adjustments only need to be made once if you are the primary driver of the car. Your back and neck will thank you. Happy driving.

How Does Biofreeze Work?

If you have ever experienced a sprain, you know how inconvenient it can be to locate some ice and a bag to put it in so that you can apply it to your injury.  After all, not everyone is “lucky” enough to get hurt at a home and have a bag of frozen peas on hand when it happens.

Even if you just have sore muscles from a strenuous workout, experts advise that you apply ice to relieve pain and speed recovery.  Biofreeze is a pain relieving gel that provides the same effect as ice, in a convenient, portable form that doesn’t tie you down.

Biofreeze is an analgesic that is useful for treating not only sprains and sore muscles, but also arthritis and other types of joint pain.  It comes in gel, spray or roll-on form, and is a type of cryotherapy (cold therapy).  Its active ingredient is menthol (from the mint family of plants), which causes your brain to interpret the nerve signals being sent as a sensation of cold, triggering a reduction in inflammation.

The cold therapy of Biofreeze works by causing ligand molecules to attach themselves to your nerve’s cold receptors, which effectively helps to numb the area, interfering with pain signals traveling to the brain.  Its menthol also induces vasodilation, which increases blood flow to the injury (a benefit over icing the area, as icing has the opposite effect), allowing cellular waste products to be swept away more efficiently and for healing oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to the cells.

Other herbal ingredients included in Biofreeze are Ilex Paraguariensis (also known as Yerba mate, a plant native to South America with antioxidant properties), Arnica, Calendula, Aloe, Boswellia, Green Tea, Burdock, Lemon Balm and vitamin E.  All of these have been used for centuries in treating tissue injuries such as bruises, sprains and strains.  Camphor, another ingredient in Biofreeze, has both numbing and antiseptic properties.

You can massage the gel into your skin (or apply it with the roll-on or spray) up to four times a day.  It can also be useful before any type of therapy, such as chiropractic care or physical therapy, so as to relieve pain that may interfere with you getting the most out of your treatment.  Although it does not require a prescription, Biofreeze is not sold in stores.  Instead, it is available at the offices of many chiropractors and other health care practitioners who carry it for the benefit of their patients.  Denver Sports and Family Chiropractic Center is a chiropractic office that sells Biofreeze.  Contact 303.758.1100 to purchase it.

Walking Your Way to Fitness

You do not need to join a gym to increase fitness. Walking is one type of exercise that is free and available to anyone possessing a sturdy pair of shoes.  It is a low-impact form of exercise that is appropriate for all age groups and levels of fitness.  Whether you’ve been a couch potato for years or are the fittest person on your block, walking for 30 minutes a day can provide you with a wide range of health benefits.

Research has shown that those who walk regularly have reduced rates of heart disease, asthma, osteoporosis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.  It also improves circulation, increases bone strength and reduces cholesterol.  Walking can also be one of the easiest forms of exercise to fit into your day for those who are pressed for time.

Julia Valentour, MS, an exercise physiologist and program coordinator at the American Council on Exercise (ACE) says, “Exercise doesn't have to be hard to be effective. The recommended 30 minutes can be broken up into two 15-minute sessions or even three 10-minute sessions, making it easy to weave into a busy lifestyle.”  One of the many benefits of walking is that it can be done nearly anywhere.  Whether you live in the country or the city, you can always find places to walk.

Experts suggest you start slowly and gradually build up to walking farther and faster.  If you have been inactive for a while, start walking three times a week at a strolling speed for 20 minutes.  Slowly work your way up to five times a week for 30 minutes.  You will have to walk at more than strolling speed to begin receiving health benefits.  Walk fast enough to raise your heart rate, to the point where you can say a few words comfortably without gasping but are not able to sing a song.

Walking is great for overall health, but those who want to lose some weight can benefit too.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine, walking at a reasonable rate of three miles per hour burns 221 calories an hour, and walking at a brisk four miles an hour burns 334 calories per hour.

There are a number of things you can do to help motivate yourself to walk regularly:

Buy a pedometer — You should aim to walk a total of 10,000 steps a day, and a pedometer can help you keep track of exactly how many steps you have taken.  Most people normally walk between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day.  You’ll be amazed at how many more steps you can add to your total by adopting some simple practices to increase the amount you walk.  For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk the kids to school and park farther from the entrance to shops.  Compete with yourself each day to see if you can improve your performance of the day before.

Listen to music or podcasts as you walk — It’s a great way of helping the time fly and it provides a nice soundtrack to the things you pass along the way.  You can even learn a new language as you walk!

Enlist a walking buddy — When two people commit to a walking regimen, neither person wants to let the other down, so it’s more difficult to skip that day’s exercise.

Find online support — StartWalkingNow.org is a free program designed by the American Heart Association to help people get started on a walking program.  Their online offerings include activity and nutrition tracking, a monthly newsletter with recipes and health tips and a way of connecting with others doing the same thing.

Walking is fun and it has many health benefits and no drawbacks, so get started today on the path to better health! If you experience any pain while walking, contact us!

Core Strength: What it is and why it matters

Core strength is a concept often talked about in health centers, gyms and yoga studios but what is it and why does it matter?

In human beings, the majority of movement originates from the lower part of the torso (the lumbar spine and abdomen).  This is the part of the body that tenses first and keeps the body balanced during running, lifting, twisting and other normal day-to-day movements.  Strength in this region is a basic building block from which to develop power in other areas of the body and is fundamental to maintaining good posture and spinal alignment.

Anatomically speaking, the core region of the body consists of the lower back, abdomen, pelvis and diaphragm.  The main muscle groups include the transversus abdominus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis and erector spinae.  It is these muscles that often need strengthening due to the fact that on a daily basis most of us are far less active than our ancestors who worked at more physically demanding jobs.

We’ve known about the importance of core strength for a long time.  Yoga and Pilates teachers, martial artists and qigong practitioners all move from the same center of gravity and balance in the core region and view this area as the nexus of human power and energy.  They stress the importance of strengthening the core through breathing exercises and meditation as well as physical movement.  Since the core region of the body contains the diaphragm, ease of breathing is both a sign and result of good core strength.  Back pain, on the other hand, may well be a sign that core strength needs to be improved. 

For those who practice sports, proper alignment is particularly important to prevent injuries during physical exertion.  If the core muscles are not strong enough to support the spine during movement, then other muscle groups will be used to perform the action with a much greater risk of damage.  The rest of us also need to be conscious of our core strength since we all engage in strenuous action at various points in our lives (lifting boxes, running to catch a bus, playfully swinging a child, etc.).

While Denver chiropractor, Dr. Carly May, is always willing to help patients in need of treatment, the ultimate goal of chiropractic care is for everyone to have the best possible spinal health.  Good core strength definitely contributes to that, whether you are otherwise healthy or have an ongoing postural problem.  If you want to improve your spinal health and posture and reduce your chance of injury, working on core strength through a balanced program of exercise is a very good, and inexpensive, way of going about it.  For help on developing a core program, call us at 303.758.1100.  Dr. Carly May is a Denver chiropractor with special training in sports rehabilitation.

How Does Chiropractic Help Increase Range of Motion and Flexibility

When we’re younger, it’s easy to take our extensive range of motion and flexibility for granted.  But as we age, a number of health conditions and the cumulative effects of wear and tear can affect our ability to move the way we used to.  When this happens it can be difficult to carry on the activities of daily life.  Even things as simple as picking something up off the floor or tying your shoes can be challenging activities when your movements are curtailed.  Luckily, regular chiropractic care can help increase both range of motion and flexibility.

flexibility chiropractic denver

A study performed in 2001 by researchers at the Phillip Chiropractic Research Centre of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that chiropractic adjustments increased range of motion in the 105 patients who participated in the study.  There were three phases of this study, in which each of the participants was given no adjustments, fake adjustments or true adjustments.  In each phase, the patients who were given the true adjustments showed a significant improvement in range of motion, which was not the case for the other two groups.

A decrease in range of motion and flexibility can result in a downward spiral of disability.  An injury or degenerative condition can cause pain, swelling and stiffness, limiting flexibility and range of motion.  So we avoid activities that involve the affected body parts, either consciously or unconsciously.  This then becomes a classic case of “use it or lose it”.  Without regular exercise, the muscles and joints stiffen, adhesions and scar tissue can form, and mobility is further reduced.  Eventually, a person can become completely incapacitated.

A chiropractor uses spinal adjustments and manipulations to other parts of the body to realign the bones and joints so as to reduce pain, restore range of motion, and improve flexibility, balance and coordination.  These adjustments may be performed manually, or other techniques may be used to increase circulation and improve function, such as Active Release Technique.  Dr. Carly May can also recommend specific exercises that can be done at home to increase your strength and flexibility so that you’re able to maintain and build upon the gains from your chiropractic adjustments.

Many people restrict their activities due to back pain, which is the most common complaint of those who enter a chiropractor’s office.  Regular chiropractic care can reduce or eliminate the source of your back and joint pain, allowing you to resume your normal activities and to remain more flexible into your golden years.

1720 South Bellaire Street, Suite 406 | Denver, CO 80222 | Denver Sports and Family Chiropractic Center LLC 2012

Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO

Dr. Carly May was invited to spend 2 weeks at the Olympic Training Center, where she worked with athletes on the field and in the Sports Medicine clinic.

Breckenridge Dew Tour

Dr. Carly spent a week working at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, CO.  Some of the best skiers and snowboarders in the world compete in the half pipe and slope style courses.

Proper Form is Key to Safer Soccer Headers

The question of whether repeated headers in the game of soccer have a long-term impact on the brain or cognitive function is a raging debate among experts with no clear answer one way or another. An LA Times article on the subject makes this clear in its opening line… “Like a loose ball in a kids' game, argument over the safety of heading in soccer has parents, coaches and scientists scrambling all over.”

The one place where there is solid agreement is that proper form is the key to preventing injury. Even if your child plays in a league where heading isn’t allowed, kids will emulate in the backyard what they see the top soccer players doing on TV. Take a moment to learn the basics of proper form so you can double check what you, your child and your child’s coach are doing. Here are a few dos and don’ts to look for:

Do strike the ball with the head. Don’t allow the ball to hit you in the head

The main thing to remember is that the player should actively ‘strike the ball with the head’ rather than allowing the ball to ‘hit them in the head’.  It is very hard to learn the skill of intentionally hitting a flying object with your head!  The player needs to be active and purposeful in heading the ball, not passive.

Do keep your eyes open and locked on the ball. Don’t close your eyes when heading a soccer ball.

The most common mistake that young players make is closing their eyes. Instead, keep the eyes open and locked on the part of the ball you want to head.

Do use the whole body to generate your power. Don’t try to use your neck muscles.

Another mistake is believing that the power in a soccer header comes from the neck muscles. It doesn’t. In a traditional header, the power comes from the upper body. The back is arched in preparation for the header and the torso is trust forward to contact the ball. All the while, the chin is tucked toward the chest.  This stabilizes the neck.  In a diving header, the neck position is locked and stabilized and the entire body is propelled forward to contact the ball. The power comes from the jump and gravity, not the neck.

Do use a ball that is age-appropriate. Don’t use a wet ball for practice.

Soccer balls come in different sizes for a reason. When practicing headers, make sure you are using the right size ball for your age and not a ball that is too large and heavy. Also, as a soccer ball gets wet, the weight increases by 20% or more, so for practice, choose a dry ball.

As we stated at the beginning of the article, the debate about whether heading a soccer ball is safe for children (and adults) rages on. What we do know for sure is that kids will do it with or without proper instruction and that proper technique is the key to injury prevention. As adults, our job is to provide the proper instruction to keep our kids safe playing ‘the beautiful game’.

Good health is a combination of many factors including your nutrition, preventative care, appropriate corrective care and the small choices you make every day in the course of living. If you have questions about this article, or have an injury, contact Dr. Carly May at Denver Sports and Family Chiropractic Center.