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Posts Tagged ‘Physical exercise’

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Sleeping on Your Stomach

This is the one habit that is the most harmful to the health and function of our spine and our nervous system.  When the head is turned to the side and then the weight of the body is placed upon it…the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, discs, nerves, etc. are compressed.  The application of this stress of stomach sleeping will lead to an acceleration of degeneration of the discs and joints.  Some of the worst degenerative disc disease that I have seen in the spine is in those that have spent their life sleeping on their belly.  We spend a third of our lives sleeping!
 
So if you shouldn’t sleep on your stomach…how should you sleep?  Flat on your back is best.  Some people will find that placing a pillow underneath the knees will be more comfortable.  You should always sleep with only one pillow under your head though so the neck is in a relaxed position.  If you are unable to sleep on your back then the next best option is on your side.  When you are sleeping on your side, you want to make sure that your head and neck are in as an aligned position as possible.  You should only use one pillow that is thick enough to support between your shoulder and your head.  Most people have a pillow that is too thin to sleep on your side…so there head is side bent all night.  The most vulnerable position for the neck to be in is side bent or extended.
 
 
Popping or Cracking Your Neck
 
This habit, which can feel good at the time will lead to hypermobility in the joints and more and more instability over time as this habit has a tendency to make you want to do it more and more.  This is a sign that your spine is probably extremely misaligned and should be evaluated asap.
 
 
 Laying on the Couch with Your Head Propped up on the Arm
 
Here is that vulnerable position again.  A side bent head is much more likely to cause a misalignment, especially when kept in this position for 30, 60 minutes or longer why you watch TV.
 
 
Sedentary Jobs/Lifestyle
 
The longer you sit the more your posture begins to breakdown.  If you are sitting for a few minutes it is much easier to keep a good posture.  When you sit for hours the chances that your posture is breaking down is very high.  So tip #1 is to sit as little as possible.  If you can stand to do a task then do it.  A least once per hour you want to get out of your chair and walk around and change the posture that you are in…something that helps you to remember to do this is to drink lots of water…which is tip #2.  Drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day…preferrably more.  A good rule of thumb is to only drink water and drink about 1/2 of your body weight in ounces per day.  So if you weigh 150 pounds then you should drink 75 ounces of water per day.  The more you weigh the more you need to drink to be healthy.  So if you are drinking water all day then you will need to get up and go to the bathroom which will greatly benefit your spine as well…it’s a win-win.  The third tip is to change positions as much as possible when you are sitting.  Change the angle of your chair, the height of your chair, move things around throughout the day.  Your body gets bored sitting in the same position all the time!
 
 
Never Ever Exercising
 
The less we exercise the more the joints of the spine begin to stiffen and deteriorate.  So move around!  Our bodies were made to move!  The best exercise is the one that you will do consistently.  Fast walking, swimming, elliptical etc.  Pick a cardiovascular exercise and get going.
 

Dr. William R. Davis Jr., D.C. is a Vista Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist. He is in private practice in Southern California in the city of Vista. He specializes in correcting problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems. More information can be found on his website at http://www.nuccawellness.com

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Dr. Davis here again from Vista CA…

Last week we looked at what sitting does to the spine and some ways to mitigate the effects.  Please go back and take a look at that post if you haven’t already.  The sitting position according to fitness expert Juan Carlos Santana does four main things to your body….

  1. Creates muscular weakness
  2. Low Functional Capacity, which can lead to being overweight, orthopedic problems with the joints, spine and other chronic problems
  3. Short and Weak hip flexors-the muscles that allow you to flex your hip become both short and weak which can lead to lower back pain and other problems
  4. A Spine that collapses into flexion due to fatigue-head will move forward, shoulders will slouch, upper back will round…think of a little old lady bent forward over her walker!

Some of the best ways to break these habits is exercise.  Tip #4 is to exercise as much as you possibly can.  As we exercise we begin to break through the chronic patterns that are muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, nerves etc. get in to.  Well what exercise is best?  I always say the best exercise is the one that you will do consistently!!!  You can learn all sorts of different exercises but if you don’t do them…it doesn’t matter!  Good general exercise is walking, swimming even using the elliptical.  However, you don’t want to have an exercise that you are primarily sitting for…if you sit all day…get your body in a different position!  So stay away from biking, rowing, and other primarily sitting exercises.

Tip #5 is to work on that posture.  One great exercise for posture is called the Bruegger Exercise.  Here is a picture of the exercise seated…you can do this at your seat as you work…http://www.nespineinstitute.com/file/sites%7C*%7C39%7C*%7CBruggerPtEd.pdf Here is a video of it being performed with a theraband.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20HoUCMAoMs  You can also do this exercise standing up against a wall.  The keys to doing it right is to keep the shoulders down away from the ears so that you are activating the muscles around the shoulder-blade.  You also want to keep the head in line with the spine and not jutting forward.  Keep the hands turned out away from the body.  When doing this position you are reversing all of the motions that you normally perform while seated.  It is a great exercise but again consistency is the key.  It needs to be done daily to make a difference for someone who sits all the time. 

Other good anti-sitting exercises can be viewed at the following videos….

Diagonal Chop http://www.ehow.com/video_2350741_diagonal-woodchop-exercise.html

Side Bridge http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUhweriKcAA

Opposite Arm, Opposite Leg Reach http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSq-6_gBwkY

To find out more about how posture effects health and what to do about it…go to www.nuccawellness.com

God Bless and Be Well,

Dr. Bill Davis

Upper Cervical Specialist

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