Why are aches and pains part of our everyday lives, and what can we do to mitigate their effects on our body? Popping joints and sore muscles are not just for older adults. More and more young adults are seeking treatment for conditions caused by today’s modern lifestyles. Here are some trends chiropractors are seeing in patients, and some key advice to keep these conditions at bay.
Text neck, or anterior head displacement, is everywhere today. The name says it all: we’re glued to our devices and it’s affecting our neck posture. This is seen in young adults and teenagers, as well as people who spend hours looking at their computer desk.
“It’s too much pressure on these tiny facet joints (in the neck),” says Joseph Coletta, D.C., EMT-P. “They were designed for us to stand upright, look around and be alert. But instead, we’re looking down.”
Problems that arise from text neck include headaches, neck pain, numbness and weakness in the arms and hands, as well as exhaustion. By taking breaks from our devices and looking around, stretching our necks and practicing mobility techniques we can alleviate joint pressure and keep our neck healthy.
Enough With The Sitting
You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” floating around. Office ergonomics starting trending about 10 years ago, but chiropractors are still treating issues from desk sitting.
“Not only is it affecting our backs and pelvis, but our internal organs aren’t functioning properly either,” says Carey Pabouet-Sigafoose, D.C. “Because of the constant pressure on the lumbar spine (low back) and the pressure on the nerves, our internal organs aren’t functioning well.”
Nerves in our spine also innervate our internal organs. When our spine is out of alignment, the signal between the brain and these internal organs are affected. For example, tightness in the belts around the waist from sitting causes destructive bowel disorders. Walk around, get some movement in your body and loosen your belt when you’re at your desk.
Check Your Purse or Wallet
I know I’m guilty of this one, but this affects both men and women. For ladies, we need to alternate which should we carry our purse on. Chiropractors notice shoulder and rib displacement in women who carry a shoulder bag predominately on one side. Use a cross body bag, or alternate the strap to the other shoulder. Backpacks are a good option as well, but I do love my handbags.
Gentlemen, take your wallet out of your back pocket when you sit. Sitting on your wallet, even if it’s a few centimeters or inches thick, is enough to change the structure of your back, causing back, hip and leg pain.
Drink Water for Spine Health
We know water is important, but why do chiropractors always tell patients to drink extra water after treatment? Well, the reasons are many, and we’re not drinking enough.
“Your discs in-between your vertebrae do not have a direct blood supply, so they rely on movement to get hydration and nutrients,” according to George Ellis, BSc. “In an MRI, one of the first changes you see in spinal discs leading to arthritis is dehydration of the disc. I’m not saying water is a cure for arthritis, but water is important for your spine health.”
Also, water keeps muscles hydrated. Dehydration in muscles leads to cramping. When muscles cramp, they cut blood flow and cause waste to build. Water may dilute those waste products and help you feel better.
Let Your Baby Crawl
Children are vulnerable to physical health conditions, and problems can begin during infancy. When children are forced to stand upright before their muscles and joints are ready, spondylolytic spondylolisthesis may occur.
“Because those bones aren’t fused yet, (sitting up) presses the spine down and (the vertebrae) slides forward and off. Let the lamina on each vertebral body fuse properly. The only way that happens is if the child is allowed to crawl, and not making them stand. If not treated at an early age, it’s a horrible surgical candidate later with numbness, tingling, weakness in the legs, muscle wasting… and that all starts at birth,” says Dr. Sigafoose.
Avoid any structures or toys which sits your child up before they are able to do it on their own, like high chairs, bouncy chairs or swings.
Get Treatment for your Children and Teens, NOW!
Time is working against children with scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition that is more prominent in girls than boys and is marked by a “S” curved spine. Depending if it’s structural or functional, it can be detected between ages 10-14 and a chiropractor can do a simple test to check for it.
Unfortunately, there is a treatment time window for certain types of scoliosis. The best time to treat scoliosis is during adolescence. However, when a teen reaches adulthood, the spinal structures are more fixed and the possibility for successful treatment decreases.
Move Like a Cat
“Nobody stretches. We lived in a physical world before, then industrialization brought repetitive stresses. Now we’re in a technological world where we’re not moving. But just do some simple stretching like every mammal does in nature on a steady basis,” says Dr. Coletta.
Stretching brings blood to joints and muscles. Mobility keeps these structures hydrated and healthy. When we don’t stretch, muscles get tight, joints lose their mobility, and we get stiff. Stiff structures need to be nourished, and movement plus stretching is an excellent natural remedy for stiffness.
Where to Cut the Stress
“People are stressed out,” says Matthew Schaer, D.C. “Headaches, low back pains, and neck hernias from stress are things I see a lot of at the practice.”
Chiropractors are not only concerned about the physical structures in our bodies, but also our overall health and lifestyles balance. It may not be so simple, but working in a field you’re passionate about undulates stress. There’s healthy stress and dysfunctional stress. Stress sits in our bodies, and chiropractors are treating stress that manifests in physical and painful ways.
Time off is important, but it’s something Americans don’t do. Due to pressure at work from our bosses, or beliefs that we put in ourselves, we choose not to exercise our breaks. Time off, whether you feel like you want to have it or not, can have more positive effects on your body’s health than a stressful day at the office.
Progressive Changes That Are Easy and Small
“I tell patients the best change they can make is one they don’t have to think about,” says George Ellis.
The best way to make a positive change is to make it small. Examples, like not wearing heels while at home, or putting books under your computer monitor so it’s elevated at eye level, are simple and without extra effort. Set timers on your phone to move around. Use bright post-its at your workstation to remind yourself to stretch. Move your bag to a different shoulder, and adjust your office desk chair for the optimal desk posture. If you’re struggling with making positive lifestyle changes for your physical health, or have further questions regarding spine health, visit a licensed chiropractor for more information.
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