Monday, January 7, 2013

Find Your Way to Effortless Posture

By David Friedman DC and Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

How do you feel about your posture?
Isn’t it funny how just hearing the word “posture” causes a certain amount of stress and anxiety? Do you automatically try to fix or correct your posture when you hear that word, only to wonder if you finally have it right this time? Maybe you feel self conscious about your posture? Maybe you even feel bad about yourself, because you have been told over and over that you need to fix your posture, but you just can’t. Perhaps you have been able to achieve “good posture” for a short period of time, but eventually slipped back into your established pattern. Well, you aren’t alone. All of us have experienced the frustration to trying to achieve perfect posture.

Stand up straight, suck in your stomach, stop slouching! How many times have you heard these instructions? That is the mantra of the “posture police”, the well meaning but sometimes misinformed people that are trying to help you. The truth is, you can’t improve your posture by hearing these words and following this advice. Simply trying to do what you think you should do can impair what you could do. You might find that you just can’t stand up straight. It’s too difficult, it’s exhausting or you have to work too hard. You may even become so confused that you are rendered into immobility.

Perhaps you have given up, somehow buying into the belief system that you have always had bad posture, and you always will. So much of our self image and how we feel about ourselves revolves around how we look and how we carry ourselves. If you are self conscious about how you look because of your posture, it can have a huge negative impact on your self image. Maybe your posture has deteriorated over the years, and you believe that is an inevitable result of the aging process. Again, this has a negative effect on your self image, leading you to believe that you are aging, losing flexibility and unable to change. This is absolutely not true.

You can improve your posture is important for good health. How you stand and walk is part of your appearance and self image, and how you are perceived by the rest of the world. Good posture is youthful, energetic and confident. And the good news is, you can easily change and improve your posture by doing a few simple movement explorations every day.

What is good posture?
Good posture is effortless. No, this isn’t a typo. It’s the truth. And the key to effortless posture is to let your spine support you. Our spines are designed with natural curves that support us during all of our weight bearing activities. Sometimes, our ideas about finding good posture cause us to try and change these natural curves. We can easily become confused by the advice and corrections we get from the “posture police”, which may cause us to try and force ourselves into abnormal positions, resulting in even more postural dysfunction.

One of the most popular myths about good posture is the “military posture”, which is sometimes held up as the standard of the ideal postural alignment. “Pull your shoulders back; tuck your chin; suck in your stomach; squeeze your buttocks.” It’s difficult to even breathe in such stance, let alone move. This is a prefect example of trying to change our natural curves, and trying to do what someone tells us to do instead of learning to feel what we do. Following this advice, our muscles work hard to hold us in positions that are unnatural. The result is abnormal alignment, muscle imbalances, back and neck pain, joint deterioration, fatigue and a progressive decline in structural alignment. So much for the military posture.

We often think of posture as a static position. That is, a standing position that is held still, without movement occurring. That isn’t the case. Good posture allows for constant movement and change within our environment, without stain or excess effort. Our environment doesn’t remain still; why should we? Good posture allows for easy movement and adjustments to our ever changing dynamic environment.

As I have previously stated, good posture is effortless. You stand and walk more comfortably. Your muscles have the proper tone and balance. You have more energy and endurance. You have better standing balance and dynamic balance, because your center of gravity is directly over your base of support. Your bones become stronger due to the correct line of stress on your bones in weight bearing activities. You stand taller, and you look longer and leaner. You breathe easier and more deeply. Your internal organs are not compressed and they can function better.

There is more good news. You don’t even have to “suck in your stomach.” When you are standing properly, your abdominal muscles automatically work correctly, and will gradually become stronger and flatter. As an added bonus, effortless posture is graceful and elegant. You appear more youthful, energetic and confident.

How can you improve your posture?
The most effective way to achieve effortless posture is through gentle movement explorations that you can do for yourself at home. Here are three simple, basic movements explorations based on the principles of The Feldenkrais Method® to help you find your way to effortless posture.

1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You may need a small pad or folded towel under your head to support you. Don’t use a pillow; it will be too soft.

Simply feel what it is like to lie on the floor. Slowly bring your arms out to the sides and slightly above your head with your elbows bent. Don’t force anything; just allow gravity to gently stretch the front of your shoulders. You will also get a passive stretch to your thoracic spine and front of your chest, Just a few minutes will help you bring your head, neck, shoulders and thoracic spine into a more neutral position. Notice the change in the length and shape of your spine when you stand up and walk.

2. Sit on the edge of a firm chair with your feet firmly on the floor. Take a moment to feel your sit bones against the surface of the chair.

Keeping your focus on your sit bones, slowly begin to rock your pelvis forward and backward, Notice how your spine changes shape as you move. Notice how your head responds with the movement of your pelvis. It’s important to move slowly and pay close attention to yourself and how the weight of your sit bones change against the chair as you move. Make the movement smaller and smaller until you find a place where you feel your sit bones are firmly contacting the chair and your spine can support you. Again, notice the shape of your spine and the position of your head when you stand up and walk.

3. Stand with your feet comfortable apart. Slightly bend your knees. Now really straighten your knees. Slowly go back and forth from bending your knees to straightening them. Notice the change in the shape of your back, and notice when your back feels tense and when your back feels relaxed. Notice how the position of your head changes as you bend and straighten your knees. Remember to move slowly and really pay attention to yourself as you move.

Find the position where your knees feel the most relaxed and slowly shift your weight side to side. Again, notice how that feels on your back. Stop, walk around the room a bit and notice the shape of your spine.

Doing these simple movements intermittently during the day will help you find your way to better posture and better health. Changing your position from standing, lying down and sitting helps you feel your spinal curves while you change your relationship to gravity. Moving slowly and paying attention to the quality of your movements helps you become more aware of your postural habits. Approaching the movements without judgment, but in the spirit of interest and curiosity provides the opportunity for self education to emerge. Through the process of your own self education, your posture will slowly begin to change and improve. Since these changes come through your own learning process, new patterns of movement and new postural habits will become automatic. You will feel and look taller, younger, more confident, have more energy and less aches and pains. Experience The Feldenkrais Method® and find your way to effortless posture.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Are Free Radicals and Anti-Oxidants All About?

What Are Free Radicals and Anti-Oxidants All About?

We hear a lot about free radicals and anti-oxidants. You may be wondering what the fuss is all about and whether it merits any action on your part. Free radicals are chemicals in our bodies that behave like a tightly wound spring with a hair trigger, just ready to be set off. When they go off and “unwind,” they transfer their energy to other molecules, essentially winding up those molecules’ springs. And this can progress into a chain reaction. The problem is that the process of winding and unwinding damages the molecules. They no longer perform the function the body needs them to perform. Even worse, they can become toxic to the body.

Free radicals are a normal part of metabolism. Our bodies are designed to produce them and to manage them safely. Anti-oxidants are chemicals our bodies use to snuff out the energy of free radicals and prevent chain reactions. But our bodies were designed hundreds of thousands of years ago, and times have changed. In modern society, we produce free radicals at a rate that overwhelms our pool of anti-oxidants. Without enough anti-oxidants to absorb the free radicals’ energy in a safe way, they cause chain reactions and create a lot of damage at the molecular and cellular level. It’s the kind of damage that, over time, weakens our tissues and organs and leads to degenerative diseases, like hypertension, arthritis and cancer.

We can protect ourselves in two ways: by limiting exposure to free radicals and by increasing the availability of anti-oxidants. Free radicals are produced by; excessive exposure to the sun (avoid that), pollutants and toxins in the air, water and food we eat (limit those), heavy exercise and stress (manage that). As you can see, we cannot fully escape the sources in our lives.
We can, however, do a lot to increase our pool of anti-oxidants. Food is the first line of offense. Whole, plant-based foods (unprocessed or minimally processed) such as grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and unrefined oils are terrific sources of anti-oxidants. Rather than trying to cherry pick, it’s easiest to simply eat a varied diet rich in whole foods. The more richly colored a food, the better. So with vegetables, choose dark greens, yellows, oranges, reds and purples.
Finally, you can also boost your anti-oxidants with four vitamins and minerals supplements. They are vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene and selenium. You can purchase them as single supplements or in a multi vitamin and mineral.

The effects of these harmful radicals are one of those things that in the short term will go unnoticed. But slowly building over the years, they can be the cause of serious degenerative diseases that can be very difficult to reverse. Make anti-oxidants part of your life. Taking action is easy and the time is now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chiropractic Frequently Asked Questions

What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
I would look for providers that have advanced post graduate degrees such as Diplomates of the American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics, Board of Chiropractic Radiologists, Board of Chiropractic Sports Practitioners or Board of Chiropractic Neurology.  These individuals have an additional 3 years of training beyond their chiropractic education.

If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
I would identify practices that perform a thorough evaluation and only complete x-rays to identify fractures, tumors, arthritis or infections.  They do not take x-rays to locate vertebral subluxations (vertebrae out of place or repeat x-rays).  Once your condition has been identified and diagnosed a 1-3 month treatment plan is recommended. It is very difficult if not impossible to know what treatment would be needed 4-5 months out.

What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
What is your educational background?  How long have you been in practice at your present location?  How often do you treat patients with my complaints or condition?

Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
My work stands out because of the 25+ years of experience in the chiropractic and 15+ years in the acupuncture profession.  In addition our office provides a multidiscipline approach to your health to include chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, Pilates, physical therapy, nutritional, Chinese herbal medicine and homeopathy.

What do you like most about your job?
What I enjoy most about my job is helping patients with difficult to treat conditions.

What questions do customers most commonly asked you?  What’s your answer?
One of the most commonly asked questions is do you think you can help relieve my symptoms. I answer with let’s determine the cause of your condition and then I will let you know if I can help you or would you have better results with a different type of practitioner.

Monday, March 19, 2012

It is never too early to learn the brittle facts about Osteoporosis

Most commonly effecting postmenopausal women, osteoporosis can also be found in older men. Primary osteoporosis typically results from falling levels of estrogen and progesterone in postmenopausal women. Other diseases that may cause osteoporosis include diabetes, some forms of hyperthyroidism and certain chronic lung diseases. Excessive use of Prednisone or alcohol, as well as a lack of calcium, protein or the lack of vitamins D and C in one’s diet is also contributing actors. Research indicates that other factors leading to osteoporosis include poor absorption of calcium, vitamin D or protein as the result of various intestinal disorders. Dangers may be lurking around the corner if you drink excessive amounts of caffeine or phosphates found in soda pop, as they tend to promote calcium excretion in the urine exacerbating the disease. Smoking is yet another culprit known to increase bone loss.

What happens to the body?
Osteoporosis is actually a thinning of bone with loss of the protein matrix as well as a loss of calcium. Most commonly, the bones in the spine, hips, lower legs and hands are affected. Early symptoms include a loss of height and some bone pain. Some of the patents symptoms may include hip fractures or a collapse of vertebrae. Remember how fragile Grandma used to be? Some fractures may even occur spontaneously or with minimal force, such as a minor slip over a step.

Prevention and Treatment
Prevention and treatment both include hormone replacement of estrogen and progesterone. If a patient is not blessed with good genes, this treatment approach may even be started before the onset of menopause. Hormone replacement therapy, such as Premarin or Provera stimulates new bone formation. The side effects can include an increased risk of blood clots, uterine and breast cancer as well as an aggravation of migraines, fibroids, endometriosis, asthma and gallbladder disease. You should discuss the potential risks and side effects of treatment with your doctor before starting on any hormone replacement. The treatment medication list can also include Alendronate (Fosamax) and Calcintonin (Miacalcin). These two medications can be taken individually for patients who need to avoid the increased risks as a previously mentioned. Or, Fosamax or Miacalcin can be taken in combination with hormone replacement in situations where osteoporosis is more severe.

There is a natural way to prevent and treat osteoporosis including a diet high in calcium, magnesium and vitamins D and C. We also suggest supplementing the diet with 1500 mg of calcium and 750 mg of magnesium per day for women and 1000mg mg of calcium half as much magnesium per day for men. Tell your tummy to smile as there are foods that are considered good for you – foods that are high in calcium include almonds, salmon, yogurt, broccoli and other dark green vegetables. Magnesium is found in the same calcium rich foods mentioned above as well as in beets and whole grain wheat and rye. Both men and women should consume 1000mg of vitamin D and 500-1000mg of vitamin C each day to prevent and treat osteoporosis. Treatment and prevention include the following vitamins and minerals: manganese (2mg), boron (2mg), vitamin A (10,000 I.U.), vitamin E (400mg) and zinc (50mg) each per day. Individuals who have difficulty digesting food, have excessive bowel gas or lack hydrochloric acid and should supplement their meals with digestive enzymes and betaine HCL. This is important to digest protein and absorb calcium, magnesium and vitamin D.

If a natural hormone replacement therapy is your preference, you should eat products daily that include soy milk, tofu, soy nuts and soy flour. Also, consider two daily applications of wild yam cream on the skin as well as oral ingestion of evening primrose oil and lecithin to provide the natural estrogen and progesterone you need without the side effect of drugs.

Exercise your options. Weight bearing exercises, such as walking, tennis, stair climbing and light weight lifting have proven beneficial in preventing osteoporosis. While non-weight bearing exercises are good for the heart, they provide little benefit in preventing osteoporosis. Instead, walk 45 minutes five times a week for prevention and treatment. For prevention, light weightlifting should focus on the spine, hips, knees and shoulders. During treatment, osteoporosis patients should avoid placing excessive stress on the spine and hips.

More prevention tips. Avoid high-heeled shoes. Make sure all rugs mats are secured to the floor to prevent slips and falls. Make sure you have hand rails on staircases and in bath area near the tub.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere

There is a body of water which could become dehydrated. Yes, this is true, and the body of water is the human body – if it is exposed to hot weather, physical activity and a dry climate.

The most perfect machine know, that of the human body, is composed of 60% water. Most chemical reactions which take place in the body require water. Did you know you could lose 1-2 quarts of water with a little activity on a hot day? Your body needs water to maintain the “perfect machine” by balancing its blood and urine concentrations as well as preventing “the perfect machine’s” overheating. Our skin takes care of overheating by allowing us to perspire, just like an evaporating cooler. Perhaps the overheated cares we see on the road, with steam coming from the hood ought to take note.

It only takes one hour to feel the effects of dehydration when fluids have not been replaced. Some reactions may include an increased pulse rate and/or increased body temperature, headache, nausea, dizziness and excessive sweating – not fun to take to your favorite garden party.

Don’t Cramp Your Own Style
You may also take heat cramps to your next summer event if you have been working out hard with activities such as tennis, jogging or biking without enough drinking water for hydration. Heat cramps are brief, intermittent muscular cramps in calf muscles and can be treated with rest, water, cooling and stretching.

If not treated, dehydration could advance to produce the sever symptoms of a potentially lethal condition, called heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include fatigue, confusion, goose bumps, delirium, ataxia (wobbly legs) and coma.

How to Hydrate
When it’s a hot summer day and you have had been resting in the sun, you should replace fluids by drinking at least 8 ounces every hour. However, if you are working in the garden, you should increase your fluid intake to 8 ounces every half hour. If you are exercising, plan to drink 8 ounces of fluids every 15 minutes to stay hydrated.

Water, Water Should be Everywhere
If you wait until you are thirsty to hydrate yourself, you might be reacting too late. By the time you feel the sensation of thirst, significant fluid depletion may have already started. You should maintain fluid replacement on a regular basis before thirst occurs.

Summer is a good time to begin a program of regular hydration to maintain health. It should also become a habit throughout the seasons. Chronic mild dehydration may be the cause of dry skin, constipation, muscle cramps and generalized fatigue. If you take diuretics or antihistamines, take heed, and more importantly take water -- you may be at extra risk of dehydration. Consuming alcohol on hot summer days may also put you at increased risk of dehydration.

64 ounces of water is recommended daily, and increase that with exercise. It is easier to drink 8 cold glasses of water throughout the day than to drink all 64 ounces at once, such as just before you go to sleep; or you may need to read an article about sleepless nights.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tennis Elbow Anyone?

Tennis Elbow Anyone?

Has your tennis game gone south due to a nagging, achy elbow? Do you awaken the day following a match with a stiff elbow and groans of empathy from your tennis partners?

If so, you may be suffering from “Lateral Elbow Epicondylitis”. In layperson’s English, this is known around the tennis courts as … groan … “tennis elbow”.

The symptoms of tennis elbow may include any of the following:
● Throbbing, burning pain over the outside of the elbow, traveling down the forearm.
● Elbow stiffness aggravated by tennis, racquetball, or repetitive motions of the wrist, such as the activity of driving screws into wood.
● Difficulty gripping objects.
● Muscle soreness across the outer forearm.

While tennis elbow pain may be a good excuse to challenge your partner to a rematch, it should never be ignored.. Actually, tennis elbow is a degenerative process which begins at the outer portion of the elbow as an acute strain or muscle tear. The problem continues to degenerate with overuse. Continued use may cause the end of the muscle or tendon to pull away from the bone, resulting in swelling and later scarring. Once torn, the tendon will never be as strong as before. So take heed and read on.

Tennis elbow most often is the result of overuse of the wrist, an improper backhand stroke, too large or too small racquet grip or excessive vibration of your racquet.

On the Mend…
A conservative approach to treating tennis elbow is a combination of the use of ice, ultrasound and massage therapy and acupuncture.

After the swelling and the pain are relieved, the patient is started on an exercise program to strengthen the tendons. Begin with isometric exercise (tightening the muscles and holding the position for 15 seconds). Place the wrist, palm down, on the edge of at able and cock the wrist toward yourself. Repeat this exercise 10 times each day, allowing time for the muscles to relax in between exercises.

Perform the same procedure with the palm turned upward. This exercise will help strengthen the muscles on the inside of the forearm, which may become sore with a forehand tennis elbow.

A Dumbbell in the Hand is Worth . . .
Following two weeks of isometric exercises, it is recommended that you switch to an endurance routine for preventive measure. Endurance is developed by contracting the same two groups of muscles, as above, at a rate of one contraction per second for 60 seconds, or until you are tired. A 2-5 pound dumbbell held in the hand will develop even greater endurance, thus reducing the chance of re-injury.

You may return to playing tennis following the two weeks of isometric exercise – but start slowly. Using a tennis elbow brace will prevent you from re-aggravating the problem. Do not use the brace as a continuous crutch. It is suggested the patients begin to wean themselves off the brace as their elbow strengthens.

If you spend 5-10 minutes stretching the muscles of your shoulders, elbow, wrist, and hand before going out to play tennis, you may prevent a recurrence of tennis elbow.

Get a Grip on Your Game . . .
Improper grip size also can cause tennis elbow. Look at the palm of your hand. Notice the lateral creases. The bottom crease, running along the middle portion of the hand is the one you want. Take a ruler and measure from the tip of your ring finger to a point on the crease between the ring and the middle finger to determine your grip in inches.

Your Backhanded Complement . . .
Check your backhand stroke to be sure you are not flicking your wrist. The wrist should remain stable while contracting the tennis ball with your racquet. Also, check with your local sporting goods store or racquet club to make sure your racquet is strung

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Road to Successful Weight Management

A New Doctor and A New Lecture! “Road to Successful Weight Management”

On March 3, 2010 from 6:30pm to 7:30pm our new chiropractor Dr. Weekes will present the lecture “Road to Successful Weight Management”.
We welcome you to come learn a balanced approach to incorporating exercise and nutrition into your life, and how chiropractic care will support your goal to reach your optimal health. An Increase in healthy activity comes with an increase in nutrient requirements, and successful weight management can be difficult without a strong plan.
Please call or e-mail our office to reserve your space, 303-221-3600 or