The Daily 5

When I first discovered the research showing how many people are dealing with pain, I had to ask myself as a chiropractor Little Falls MN, why? Why are episodes of pain so frequent? Why will nearly everyone experience some back and neck pain?

I came to realize that most people don’t know how to use their back and neck properly, which unless they are a chiropractor Little Falls MN they would not know the right way. Think about it. Aren’t we told the importance of washing our hands every flu season? Aren’t we all taught in school how to take care of our teeth? “Brush and floss, or else your teeth will rot and fall out.” However, when are we taught the importance of using our spine correctly? When are we told of the rotten consequences that come with the misuse? Rarely, if ever.

To address this, as a bonus, I’m going to show you five daily habits that, if you actually develop them, will take a great deal of stress off your spine. These “The Daily 5” are at the foundation of any training designed by a chiropractor Little Falls MN to prevent Buckling Points. That being said, it’s important for you to know that these five, while a great step in the right direction, are just that… a step. On their own, they will not get you to your final destination—being pain-free, but you should already know that if you’ve made it this far.

The Daily 5

  1. Chin Tuck: Your new, annoying, daily habit.
  2. Hip Hinge: The single most important maneuver that you forgot you knew.
  3. Belly Breathing: Why “tucking in your gut” is not okay.
  4. Spine Stretch: Like brushing your teeth, but for your back and neck.
  5. Nutrition: You feel what you eat!

The Daily 5 are actually very simple for those who aren’t just a chiropractor Little Falls MN. And they focus around one key point: Never bend your spine. What is a “broken spinal position?” It is simply another phrase for a Buckling Point, which most commonly occur when, instead of curving, your spine becomes bent.

Like a guy lying on a bed of a thousand nails, when the spine is curved the stress gets spread out across multiple spots. What happens if you remove all the nails except one and have the guy lie on it? What will you have? That’s right, a human shish kabob. This is because all of the stress has now focused on a single spot and that damages the body. That’s exactly what happens to the back and neck when the spine is bent. All of the stress gets focused on one joint and it gets damaged, which is why our goal as a chiropractor Little Falls MN is to avoid it.

Dr. Starrett also says, “If you see flexion or extension (forward bent or backward bent) anywhere in the spine, it’s an error.” That’s exactly what needs to be avoided. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Chin Tuck: Your new, annoying, daily habit.

When was the last time you considered the position of your head? Like where it’s sitting in relation to your back and neck? Probably not until you finished that sentence. That’s a problem but unless you’re a chiropractor Little Falls MN why would you?

When I was a teenager, I coached our local diving team. For the divers who wanted to do a front flip, we would teach them one concept: “Where the head goes, the body follows.” The moment they leapt off the board, they would quickly flex their head downward. The momentum of that movement would carry them into a flipping motion. We taught a lot of kids to do flips like this—to the dismay of many mothers.

The position of your head is important because your head is heavy. It’s at least 10-15 pounds, and it sits on top of a mostly unsupported part of your spine, your neck. The mid back is reinforced by ribs and the abdominal contents. The low back is supported by the pelvis, quite a bit of muscle, and more organs. But your neck is left to fend for itself. Therein lies a potential problem.

You don’t need to see a chiropractor Little Falls MN for this simple fix, If you don’t position your head correctly, you’ll constantly create Buckling Points in your neck.

Here’s an example. In my reception area, we have a coffee bar where patients can enjoy a warm drink. One day, I walked out into the reception area as a young woman was finishing her hot chocolate. I watched in horror as she bent her neck back and brought her chin up to take a drink. It looked like this:

 

You might be thinking, “You’re seriously going to tell me that the way I’ve been drinking is wrong. Get a life, man.” But stick with me for a second. If you had X-ray vision and could see inside of her neck, you’d see that there’s one joint that’s moved a lot while the rest haven’t. That’s the Buckling Point and it usually happens in the middle of the neck when this rule is broken.

Get this. Later that evening, I was having dinner with a close friend, his wife, and their adorable two-year-old daughter. I watched this toddler pick up her cup and take a drink from it. This time, instead of horror, I watched in amazement. First, she grasped the cup in both hands and brought it to her lips. Then she tucked her chin and extended her entire upper body. This caused her neck and upper back to curve, allowing her spine to completely avoid creating a Buckling Point. 

Using your X-ray vision again, you would see that she didn’t bend her neck at all. Instead, she curved it making sure each joint moved equally and ensuring no single joint was moved beyond its normal limits.

In order to curve your neck and not bend it, you’ll need to master a special move as well as a toddler or a chiropractor Little Falls MN this gives you the ability to control the position of your head: The Chin Tuck.

Imagine you have a string tied to the top of your head, and it’s being pulled up and back. How would your head and neck move? When you move like this, it’s as if you’re giving yourself a double chin, but in doing so, you optimize your neck’s curve, and effectively avoid bending it.

Before you take a drink of water, bench press, sit and work at the computer, or bring a spoonful of soup to your mouth, first, set your Chin Tuck. It should become your new but annoying daily habit. You’ll know you’re doing it right when friends and family look at you and ask, “What in the world are you doing with your head?”

Going back to the adorable two-year-old, what astounded me the most about her correct use of her back and neck to do something as simple as taking a drink—was that she simply did it. She didn’t watch a YouTube video or read this article. She didn’t have any special instruction from a chiropractor Little Falls MN or attend a weekend seminar. She just did it. It must’ve felt right. On a different occasion, I watched her squat to pick up a toy from the ground. She did that in perfect form, too. Later, I observed my own nieces doing the same thing. Never did I see them take a drink of water or pick something up with a bent spine. It was always a nice Chin Tuck or squat—the back staying straight, the butt sticking out, so that bending occurs at the hips.

This drove me as a chiropractor Little Falls MN crazy. How can these children, who can’t go to the bathroom by themselves have nearly perfect movement and posture?

Then like a lightning bolt, the answer struck me: Our back and neck comes pre programmed for proper use. That’s the default setting of our bodies. But when they get forced into the Vicious Cycle, it all gets lost. What that tells us is if we do something incorrectly long enough, before long we will be forced to keep doing that thing incorrectly. As we all know, the more mistakes we make with the back and neck, the more likely you’re going to be in pain. Now, on to the next one.

 

  1. Hip Hinge: The single most important maneuver that you forgot you knew.

The next installment to undo the bad programming focuses on low back and hips. When you bend from your waist, you are actually bending your low back, thus creating a Buckling Point. That’s not good.

As a chiropractor Little Falls MN, what do you do? Don’t bend from the waist—hinge at the hips. By “hinging at the hips,” you keep your lower back straight, your butt gets pushed back, and your hips absorb all the force, which is exactly what they’re designed to do. The steps to do this are: stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly. Keep your weight on your heels. Push your butt back. Now you’re in position to hinge at your hips. Now lower yourself.

Like the Chin Tuck, the more you do this, the more natural it’ll feel, and the better you’ll get. Before you bend forward to pick up the clothes from the floor, golf ball from the hole, or backpack from the ground, be sure to hinge at your hips.

  1. Belly Breathing: Why “tucking in your gut” is not okay.

Yoga practitioners have believed for centuries that each person only has so many breaths to take in their lifetime. That’s part of the reason why, if you’ve ever done yoga, you’ve heard your instructor comment on controlling your breathing. It’s believed that if you can control how you breathe, you can control when you take your last breath.

Now, as a chiropractor Little Falls MN I don’t know if that’s true, but what I do know is that how you breathe is either hurting or helping your chances to be pain-free.

Breathing is one of the most important things for a pain-free back and neck because it involves how you use your diaphragm. I know, this seems simple mister chiropractor Little Falls MN. Your diaphragm is the muscle that regulates your breathing, and it’s there first to expand your lungs to suck in air so that you can stay alive. That’s really important. Secondly, because it attaches throughout the middle back, when it is strong and being used correctly, it also helps to stabilize that area—which is the link between your neck and lower back. That’s important too. You could do the Chin Tuck all day and Hip Hinge at every opportunity, but if your breathing is off, you’ll never be quite as good as you could be. Truth be told, if you don’t breathe in the correct manner, you’re actually nudging your back and neck closer and closer to the Tipping Point.

Remember the Breathing Test I had you take during the Vicious Cycle? I did this because if your shoulders raise when you breathe in, it means that the superficial Movers have taken over, and the deep Stabilizers of your neck have gone weak—hallmarks of the Dysfunction Phase.

Now, if this is happening every time you take a breath, that dysfunction is being reinforced over and over. Consider how much you actually breathe. You take somewhere around 20,000 breaths per day, and 20,000 is a lot of anything. If you’re doing it wrong, it’s 20,000 small nudges in the wrong direction, or 20,000 small nudges in the right direction if you are doing it right.

Here’s how to ensure you’re doing it right:

  1. Lie on your back,
  2. Put one hand on your chest,
  3. Put the other hand on your belly,
  4. Take a deep breath in and push out your belly (you should feel your hand rise),
  5. Exhale, and you should feel your belly lower, and
  6. Do it again.

Remember: Your neck and shoulders shouldn’t move at all during this and consult a chiropractor Little Falls MN if you have more questions. 

By the way, since we’ve been talking about toddlers and how perfectly they do things, the next time you’re near a toddler, look at his stomach as he breathes. Guess what you’ll see? When he breathes in, his belly goes out—and that’s the key. Yes you can learn almost as much from a toddler then as a chiropractor Little Falls MN. The trick is to apply this with every breath. You should be doing it when you sit, when you stand, when you go for a run, when you’re driving your car, and when you’re making supper. The more you do this, the better you’ll be for it.

  1. Spine Stretch: Like brushing your teeth, but for your back and neck.

Compared to what we already covered, this next one is different. The first three are habits that you need to get used to doing all the time, day in and day out. This next one is something you do once or twice a day.

Because all humans are front heavy, as gravity pulls on us it not only pulls us down, but it also pulls us forward. This wreaks havoc on the spine because this constant pressure compresses your spinal joints. Combining this with sitting and poor lifting mechanics means most of us are headed for a world of hurt, or if you’re already in one, headed toward a place where the world hurts more. You’re probably thinking well I can’t control that and neither can a chiropractor Little Falls MN.

The fourth habit is decompressing your spine. The back and neck absolutely love this because it takes pressure off of them. It stretches the muscles, discs, and ligaments, giving them a chance to recover. All in all, decompression to your spine is like a glass of cool water on a hot day.

How do you do it, do you have to be a chiropractor Little Falls MN? Tons of gadgets out there all boast they’re the best. The most common one is an inversion table where you hang upside down. While they may have their merits, my educated opinion: they’re not the best. They simply don’t allow you the range of motion and freedom that you really need. Besides, I’ve found a cheaper and more effective way to decompress your spine. It’s called the Spine Stretch. Here’s how to do it.

Once you purchase a gym ball, inflate it so that it is firm. Then:

1) Sit on the gym ball,

2) Walk yourself out while leaning back so that your back rests against the ball,

3) Push with your legs, and extend your back over the ball,

4) Keep your head rested fully against the ball—you should not have your head lifted, and

5) Once stable, let your arms extend over your head.

In this position you can quietly lay there and let the decompression and stretch deepen. You could gently rock yourself back and forth—that’s good for you because you actively pump new fluids into your spine. You could roll to one side and then the other, stretching out your flanks. The beautiful thing is, once you’re in this position, you’re in control, and virtually any motion you can do will help decompress your spine. The more you do this, the more your back and neck will like you for it. A chiropractor Little Falls MN can help you. 

  1. Nutrition: You feel what you eat!

Every morsel of food that enters your mouth is either moving you closer to pain or farther away. You’re either starving inflammation or feeding it. There is no in-between and no foods are neutral. You must be careful what you eat if you’re ever to become pain-free, as a chiropractor Little Falls MN this is probably the hardest part for patients.

 Here are a few guidelines to follow during your pursuit of pain-free living. Be forewarned, the relationship between diet and pain is fairly complex, enough so that entire books have been dedicated to this topic. What I’m about to divulge is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good place to start.

Foods to avoid: Alcohol, omega-6 cooking oils, dairy products, processed meats, refined grains, white bread, rice, pasta, artificial food additives, aspartame, mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), sugars, trans fats, and commercially produced meats where the animals are fed grains.

Foods to consume: asparagus, avocado, beets, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, parsnips, spinach, Romaine lettuce, berries, apples, oranges, pears, lemon, cantaloupe, green tea, turkey, chicken, eggs, and salmon.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: this nutrient is absolutely crucial for the elimination of pain because it regulates inflammation. If you have too little Omega-3, your body overproduces inflammation, leading to you to feeling more pain than you should. The problem we face is that our modern diet simply doesn’t provide enough of it. This means that unless you’ve been actively supplementing with Omega-3, you’re likely deficient. This stuff is so potent that research shows it is as effective as those dangerous NSAIDs we discussed earlier, and the best part is that they have none of their side effects. (68) How much should you take? 370/mg per 40 lbs. per day.

Vitamin D: Like Omega-3s, this is another crucial nutrient for the reduction of pain. Here’s a quote directly from the research: “Many patients with Vitamin D deficiency may complain of full, persistent, generalized musculoskeletal aches, pains, and weaknesses, fatigue, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.”(70) How much should you take? About 4000IUs (IU stands for International Units and is simply system of measurement like ounces) per day per day for adults and 1000IUs per day for children. (71)

Proteolytic enzymes: Instead of reaching for the aspirin or ibuprofen bottle after a flare up or injury, reach for this. This supplement counteracts inflammation, slows the formation of scar tissue, and improves blood flow to the site of pain or injury. The best part: it does all this by working with your body, and not overriding it. This is a must have for anyone who is serious about getting out of pain in the most drug-free way.

These five habits are crucial for you to retrain your back and neck, and keep you out of the Vicious Cycle and pain-free. Remember, knowledge is different than action.

 Get to it and consult a chiropractor Little Falls MN if you have any further concerns!

References

 

  1. Maroon, JC, Bost, JW; Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain; April 2006;65(4); pp. 326-31.

 

  1. How Much Omega Sufficiency® Is Required Each Day? Innate Choice. Accessed September 27, 2016. http://innatechoice. com/viewfaq.cfm?id=20AB76E3-A5E5-6F58-274971E9A12 C47C.

 

  1. AI Faraj, Al Mutairl K. Vitamin D and Chronic Low Back Pain in Saudi Arabia, Spine 2003; 28;172-179.

 

  1. Innate Choice. Accessed September 27, 2016. http://innate choice.com/viewfaq.cfm?id=63A4E756-E2E9-7E2B-17F3347 806D92AE2

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