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Healthy Kids and Healthy Spines

In Virginia Beach, there are a wide-range of scenarios our young families are facing as we embark on a new school year.  Regardless of the scenario your family faces, we want to educate you about ways you can support your child’s health through the spine.  It truly is the backbone of the body- providing structural support and housing the nervous system.  Keeping a healthy spine supports a healthy body, something we’re all striving for more than ever before!

Minimize screen time!

Although a funny term, did you know “text neck” is a real thing?!  Check out this graphic and see how even the slightest flexion of the neck can challenge the body.  Whether working on a Chromebook or looking at a phone, prolonged cervical flexion is not healthy for the spine.  Encourage taking breaks from the screen as frequently as possible (every 20 minutes for our young children).  The break should include getting out of the chair, stretching arms overhead and looking up at the sky, and taking 3-5 deep breaths.  Walking around for 5 minutes helps increase blood flow and wake the body up for more learning.

Move… in the morning AND the afternoon!

Did you know moving is a key component of learning??  Research has found that exercise improves both behavior and academic performance.  And this doesn’t just apply to children!

We appreciate and understand the challenges parents face trying to balance working from home and helping kids in the virtual classroom.  Incorporating physical activity for at least 30 minutes in the morning AND the afternoon can lead to a much happier household.  No need to be a full blown drill sergeant, simply allow for running, jumping, and being loud!  Kids needs to let that pent up energy out… or it shows up as poor attention spans or bad behavior.

Stretch as a family!

Do you ever feel general body aches and soreness after a long day of… sitting??  Children experience the same thing, sometimes on an even greater scale!  Sitting promotes the body to develop poor postural habits that result in tight muscles.  For children, add the growing factor on top of a sedentary day and you’re setting the stage for a long night of aches and pains.  As the bones grow longer, the muscles can’t keep up.  The muscles then pull on the bones creating those horrible “growing pains.”

Stretching is the answer!  Developing a healthy stretching routine at an early age can lead to healthier long-term lifestyle habits.  Join the kids and make stretching a fun, family event.  You need it too!

 

Drink water!

Do you know if your child is drinking enough water?  Below is a quick breakdown of how much water children should consume according to WebMD:

  • 2-4 years old: 2-4 cups (16- 32 oz)
  • 4-8 years old: 5-6 cups (32- 40 oz)
  • 9-13 years old: 7-8 cups (56-64 oz)
  • 14 and up: 8-11 cups (64- 88 oz)

Most adults walk around with some level of dehydration.  Low level dehydration can result in many ill-effects,

including muscle and joint pain (including the spine), increased blood pressure, increased risk for injury, increased risk of urinary-tract infections, and more!  While wearing face coverings, the need for proper hydration increases even more due to increased body temperature.  Water breaks are a great way to change up the day and keep the family well-hydrated!

Chiropractic care for kids… safe and effective!

At no stage in life is the body enduring more change than during growth and adolescence!   Physical and developmental changes are at their peak from birth through puberty.  The body is constantly replicating cells to grow and adapt preparing for adulthood.  You may notice that your child is very clumsy for a period of time- you know, that awkward puppy stage!  This is because the nervous system is trying to keep up with the changes within the body.  Since the spine houses the nervous system, why wouldn’t you want to ensure it’s functioning at its best!?

Chiropractic care is a safe and effective way to establish proper movement patterns and prevent structural imbalances at an early stage of life.  And it’s never too early!

Why is keeping a healthy spine so important?

As mentioned above, the spine has the very important job of being the literal back bone of the body!  Maintaining proper spinal alignment and strong postural muscles is essential for function.  The mechanics of the spine has a direct impact on how the body moves… and how the nerves communicate with the rest of the body.  Chiropractic is the best way to ensure everything is moving and communicating well.  Call to schedule your child’s first visit today!

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Educate

Keeping Your Back Happy During Quarantine

Welcome to the world of adapting with the times!  Let’s be honest… it feels like we’ve been flipped upside down, turned around, and then told to walk straight and not touch anything or anyone.  It hasn’t been easy.  And that includes the physical changes we’re enduring!  Trying to keep your body “happy” during this time can be very challenging.

Kudos to those of you that have viewed Virginia’s stay-at-home orders as an opportunity to focus on your health!  Many patients have been increasing their activity points through yard work, walks in the neighborhood, and trying new exercise routines through various internet resources.

On the other hand, we have patients that have been working longer hours, sitting in front of the computer, munching on unnecessary snacks, and then binge-watching Netflix.  There has to be a happy medium!

How can I set up my at-home workstation to prevent my back from hurting?

Not everyone has their floor plans designed to accommodate a home-office.  We’ve heard patients describe their set up from lounging on the couch to sitting at kitchen counter on a bar stool- neither of which are good for the back!  When working from home, it’s very important to remember to get up every 30-60 minutes to loosen up the body and give your back a break.  Below are the American Chiropractic Association’s recommendations for an ergonomic work-station.  Can you change your workstation to lessen the strain on your back??

  • Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.
  • Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
  • Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
  • Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
  • Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support.
  • Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

Why do I hurt more?? I’ve never been more active in my life!

Adding in activity is good for the mind, body, and spirit… however, the body doesn’t always know how to handle it!

Gardening- Thankfully, the pandemic hit Virginia Beach in the early spring time providing ample opportunity for outdoor activities.  Just a couple weeks ago, USA Today posted an article about the increase in gardening throughout the US.  Gardening is an excellent outdoor activity!  But it comes with sore muscles and achy backs if you’re not accustomed to the work.

TIPS

  1. Walk around the yard and warm up prior to beginning specific gardening activities.  Simply walking around helps increase blood flow to the muscles, preparing them for more strenuous activity.  Try alternating between short, quick steps and long lunge-like steps to get the heart pumping and add a little stretch.
  2. Squat to reach the ground.  Avoid excessive straight-legged bending at the waist when performing yard work.  This puts significant stress on the discs between your vertebrae and strains the muscles in the back.  Although a stretch is felt in the hamstrings and back, prolonged forward bending makes those muscles work harder.  And the pain is felt later, once your body has a chance to relax again!
  3. Alternate hands when pulling weeds.  We often rely on our dominant hand to do most of the work.  However, this can cause significant body imbalance from right to left.  Work both sides of the body to distribute the demands!

Cooking- With the closure of restaurants due to COVID-19, Americans are cooking more than ever before.  This means more time standing in the kitchen and looking down while preparing meals.  Hopefully healthier choices are being made!  But that doesn’t make for any less physical stress on the body from doing more in the kitchen!

TIPS

  1. Walk around the kitchen. Just like walking around the yard, the movement helps warm up the body.  You can gather ingredients and utensils needed for meal prep.  It also provides an opportunity to evaluate your kitchen set up for easier use!
  2. Open a cabinet door to rest a foot.  This is especially helpful when washing dishes.  Resting a foot on the cabinet prevents you from locking your knees and makes it easier to squat down when necessary.  Alternating which foot is resting in the cabinet also helps change up how your weight is distributed, often relieving back pain.

Exercising- Now that working from home is encouraged, and in some cases mandated, people have more time available for exercising.  An incredibly positive change for many!  But we’re also exercising from home which leads to more injuries when supervision is not available.

TIPS

  1. Slow and steady is the best method if you’re new to introducing exercise… and this includes people that were avid athletes in their younger years, but haven’t had the opportunity to maintain an athletic physique since the glory days of old.  There’s no shame in going back to the basics!
  2. Remember to stretch.  For a lot of people, exercise means sweating and burning calories.  Unfortunately, stretching is often neglected with that mentality.  Tight muscles are often a source of ache and generalized discomfort.  It is also essential for preventing injuries!
  3. Discuss your exercise routine with our chiropractors. There’s no better qualified physician than chiropractors when it comes to understanding the mechanics of the body.  Let us help you create the best routine for your body!

Here are 2 exercises and 2 stretches to help you handle the changes in activity!

 

 

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Keeping Your Hips Happy!

Some of you may not know this… Dr. Amanda will be running the Shamrock Half Marathon on March 22nd.  In honor of her ambitions, we dedicate this month’s newsletter education to the body region that has been the most challenging for her while training… the hips!

“My goal is to finish a half marathon after having kids.  I ran the Flying Pirate half marathon in the OBX 7 years ago.  It was my first half marathon, and I quickly said it would be my last!  And then I had kids… followed by a strong desire to get my body back to the physical shape I was in prior to having kids.  Nate is 2 ½ years old and I’m ready to do this.  The satisfaction of completion is just around the corner, I can feel it.  And I can also feel every mile in my hips.  The aching and gnawing feeling just comes to life at night when I’m trying to relax.  I never felt that type of pain prior to having kids!  But I’m moving forward with my training successfully and I’m looking forward to crossing the finish line.  Included in this newsletter are some tips on what I’ve done for self-care to improve recovery and reduce the discomfort.  Good luck to all the runners… I’ll see you out there!” – Dr. Amanda

Stretching/Yoga

Stretching is an absolute must… for everyone!  But particularly for the running community.  In today’s world, we do a lot of sitting: hips flexed, knees bent, and (often) a slumped posture through the shoulders.  After prolonged sitting, the muscles become accustomed to their position.  This is exactly why when you first stand up you feel stiff.  It is difficult for the body to straighten to an erect posture and can take a few steps before you actually feel upright.  One of the muscles responsible for hip stabilization (keeping your hips square under your torso) is the piriformis muscle.  The piriformis muscle gets weak from excessive sitting. And, in contrast, gets strong, but TIGHT from running.  Although Dr. Amanda has done a lot of different stretches while training, the piriformis stretch has been a staple for helping her hips work through changing from weak to strong and combating the tightness from running.  Doing yoga throughout your training can bring you additional benefit.  Simple stretching is a great way to loosen the muscles, but yoga’s incorporation of a focus on breathing takes it to a whole new level.

Strengthening

One of the biggest mistakes we make when starting an exercise routine is that we go big too quickly.  If you don’t start small, injury is likely to occur.  Hip stabilization exercises are another absolute must to get the proper muscles stronger to perform in an endurance activity, like training for a half marathon.  But it’s important to keep this in mind for the average or de-conditioned person as well.  If you haven’t been exercising regularly, don’t expect to walk 3 miles and feel good.  It’s going to hurt!  Because the muscles that are responsible for hip stabilization are not prepared to work for that length of time.  Small strengthening exercises make the big goals doable.  Here is one of Dr. Amanda’s favorite strengthening exercises for hip stabilization.

Massage

Massage has many benefits for many different reasons.  Returning to running reminded me of muscles Dr. Amanda hadn’t felt in a long time.  She had 3 massages over 3-4 weeks to address those sore muscles.  She was getting comfortable with running 3-4 miles, 3 times per week when she scheduled the massages.  For people that are not natural runners, developing the endurance is challenging when working through the soreness.  The massages improve blood flow through the tight muscles, including areas that are difficult to stretch.  The increase in blood flow brings additional cells that help heal the microtrauma that occurs from pounding the pavement.  It also helps circulate waste out of the muscles like lactic acid.  Dr. Amanda is looking forward to her post-race sports massage!  The stretching incorporated in a sports massage will facilitate recovery and reduce inflammation by circulating the blood better through those sore muscles.

Foam Rolling

Throughout the weeks since getting the massages, Dr. Amanda uses a foam roller 2+ times per week.  It’s a staple in their living room at home!  Foam rolling can be incredibly beneficial to address fascial adhesions that develop as your feet continuously strike the ground.  I roll all 4 sides of the thighs- quadriceps and hip flexors, hamstrings and gluteal muscles, the adductors on the inside, and the abductors and IT Band on the outside.

Water

Generally speaking, hydration is very important for people.  Hydration for runners is even more important.  According to Brigham Health, “Maintaining hydration as a runner is important for health and performance. Water regulates our body temperature, removes waste, helps brings energy to our cells, and cushions our joints. Adequate hydration can improve recovery, minimize injury and cramping, and maximize performance.”  The easiest way to remember how much water to drink in a day is to divide your weight in half.  This equals the number of ounces of water you should drink everyday for the average person.  For the runner, depending on your mileage, you need to increase the amount of water that you drink to restore what was lost in exercise.  And don’t be mistaken, nothing replaces water.  You may enhance it with some additional electrolytes, but it must be water.

Nutritional Supplementation

The nutrient and mineral requirements for the body are barely being met for the average person by today’s food standards.  Our vegetables don’t contain the minerals they once did and our animal protein is being tainted with antibiotics and preservatives our body’s have to process.  Nutritional supplementation of some degree is becoming essential.  For the runner, this couldn’t be more true.  B-vitamins and minerals help support energy production and muscle contraction, respectively.  Omega-3 fatty acids and incredible herbs like Boswellia serrata and turmeric help combat inflammation that comes with putting out the miles.  Dr. Amanda is a big fan of Standard Process and MediHerb supplements.  The whole food nutrition component coupled with the guarantee of high quality just can’t be beat.  Depending on the phase of training and her general health, Dr. Amanda will adapt her regimen to support her body where it needs it most.  Just ask if you want to learn more!

ASEA

As you may have noticed, we’ve begun promoting a product line by ASEA that contains Redox Signaling Molecules.  The purpose of increasing your availability of these amazing molecules is that it promotes cellular healing.  Besides improving recovery time, Dr. Amanda has also experienced improved sleep, better digestion, and increased energy… even with the additional stress of running more than she has in 7 years!  Additionally, Dr. Amanda had a faster recovery time when she was sick about two-thirds of the way through her training.  “I genuinely doubt I would have recovered as quickly from the cold/sinus congestion I developed in the middle of February.  I was amazed at how quickly I could return to running a longer distance.  In the past, I would struggle if I had to take a week off from training.  Trying to return to the road was tough.  Not this time!  It was great!”  If you want to learn more about ASEA, check out this month’s class on Tuesday, March 10th at 5:30pm.  Click here to sign up!  For even more information, check out our ASEA site.