October is National Chiropractic Health Month
October is finally here–and that means it is National Chiropractic Health Month! During this month, we join hundreds of practices across the nation in encouraging the public to seek out the benefits of chiropractic care, and this year’s theme is “Keep Moving!”.
We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many of us in our ability to venture outside of the house and be active. Lack of physical activity can impact not only our physical health but also our mental and emotional health. Over the last two years, many have discovered just how beneficial daily movement and exercise can be to our overall health and feeling of well-being.
Keep Moving Campaign
This year our campaign is all about movement and how important daily exercise is to our health and wellbeing. You may wonder how this connects to chiropractic care… As experts in utilizing a drug-free, whole-person approach to your health, the condition of your bones and muscles is important. Lack of movement and physical activity may lead to weight gain and increase your risk of joint pain, injuries, cardiovascular health problems, and other musculoskeletal conditions.
An Active Approach
Daily physical activity strengthens your bones, muscles, and joints while improving your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Here are some tips you can use to get you moving throughout the day!
Exercises for the Workplace
When in the office, we understand it can be difficult to exercise, but there are ways of strengthening your body. Remember to sit straight with both feet on the ground, as this helps you maintain good posture and evenly distribute your weight across your body preventing muscle pain and inflammation. Keep your head at an even position by moving your screen to eye level. This will prevent you from straining your neck.
Take small exercise breaks throughout the day. Every 20 minutes would be great even for light stretching. Other ways to increase movement in the workplace include using the stairs, gently shaking out your limbs, rolling your shoulders and ankles, and stretching your back throughout the day.
Studies show that being outdoors and interacting with nature does lower stress levels, reduce anxiety, and enhance your mental and emotional wellbeing. Exercising outdoors is a great way to get the best of both worlds.
Popular outdoor activities to do during the fall include nature walks, running along forest trails, hiking in local areas, and recreational sports such as football, soccer, and basketball. Be mindful of your body and rest when necessary. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, we encourage you to consult with your doctor about healthy ways to exercise and increase movement.
Even if you don’t own a home gym, you can still exercise at home. There are many virtual classes or online exercise routines you can follow to help you exercise in the comfort of your home. Though it is recommended that adults get at least 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, don’t feel pressured to do it all at once. Even raking the leaves outside can contribute to your daily movement!
Regular exercise reduces the stress on your ligaments and joints minimizing the chance of injury, muscle strain, and muscular pain. This month, though we are encouraging patients to get out and move, it is important to note there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to exercise so take time to find the right combination of activities that work for you. Remember, the key is to sit less and move more so that you can live a healthy life. We are here to help you get a head start on better health and wellness by getting you moving. For more information on our chiropractic services and how we can help you or to schedule an appointment, contact Tuck Chiropractic today.
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Treating Sacroiliitis with Chiropractic Care
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints we diagnose and treat as chiropractors. A cause of low back pain that can be easily missed is sacroiliitis! This month we’d like to show how chiropractic care can help to alleviate pain and restore function and mobility to those diagnosed with sacroiliitis.
What is Sacroiliitis?
Sacroiliitis refers to inflammation of one or both sacroiliac joints also known as SI joints. These sacroiliac joints connect the lower part of your spine (sacrum) to your pelvis. Anytime you take a step, lift your leg, extend, or move your legs, you utilize your sacroiliac joints.
There are a variety of factors that can increase a person’s risk for developing sacroiliitis, including:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Traumatic injury
The pain associated with sacroiliitis stems from inflammation and irritation of the sacroiliac joint. Symptoms include:
- Pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs, and feet
- Pain that worsens have after periods of standing or sitting
- Pain felt with weight-bearing activities
- Stiffness in the hips and lower back
In cases of infection, fever may also be a symptom of sacroiliitis.
Can We Help?
As chiropractors, we pride ourselves on utilizing your body’s healing processes to relieve pain that stems from joint inflammation, dysfunction, and misalignment. During your consultation, we will evaluate your symptoms, conduct a physical exam, and perform any necessary tests to determine which treatment options will be ideal for your condition and lifestyle.
We specialize in a variety of non-surgical treatment methods for sacroiliitis, including:
- Chiropractic Adjustment- If a misalignment is the cause of your condition, manual or machine-assisted chiropractic adjustments can help to realign joints causing pressure and pain within your body.
- Heat and Ice Therapy- Using heating packs can help stimulate strong circulation in the area which will supply the joint with much-needed healing and pain relief nutrients. Ice or cold packs will reduce swelling and inflammation to alleviate pain.
- Rest- Rest allows your body time to heal from activities that may worsen your condition while also reducing inflammation.
- Therapeutic Massage- Massage is a direct method of relaxing tight muscles which also increases blood flow to the area and assists in muscle and soft tissue healing and recovery.
- Physical Therapy- We can recommend exercises and stretches that will strengthen your muscles and joints, keep your body flexible, and restore your range of motion while reducing swelling and pain.
During your consultation, we will conduct a variety of tests to determine your diagnosis and work with you to tailor your treatment to your unique needs and goals. If you believe you are suffering from sacroiliitis or would like to schedule an appointment, contact Tuck Clinic today.
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Our Back To School Tips
It’s that time of year! Whether you are preparing a child for the upcoming school year or yourself, sitting at a desk all day, being hunched over a computer, or craning your neck while doing homework–school can put a strain on your body. Here are some chiropractic tips to help make this back-to-school season a happy and healthy one.
Ouch! Back To School Pain
Back pain is a common complaint in our office from adults, but in recent years it has also become a common concern for many children and teenagers. The influx in cases has recently been connected to the use of heavily packed backpacks and spending hours looking at a computer or hand-held device during the school year.
Backpacks have long been a health concern as carrying an overweight bag improperly can create several concerning health conditions such as poor posture, muscle strain, joint pain, and headaches. The common use of technology with computers, tablets, and phones can also impact your spinal health as it causes you to crane your neck and put pressure on your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
Wearing Your Backpack Right
No one wants to carry a heavy backpack every day but choosing the right bag and carrying it properly can help you avoid pain and injury. It is not unheard of for patients to experience upper shoulder pain, low back pain, neck pain, and even headaches from an improperly worn or heavy backpack.
Be sure to purchase a bag that has a padded back and wide, padded adjustable straps that will help prevent the weight from digging into pressure points. Though it may look cool to sling a backpack over one shoulder or to use a messenger style back, wearing both straps on your shoulders will evenly distribute the weight across your body to prevent muscle strain and fatigue. If your bag has a waist strap, using it can help to reduce the chance of back pain. Though a smaller backpack may seem appealing for your profile, your backpack should be proportionate to your body. The top of the bag shouldn’t be higher than your shoulders and the bottom should be above your hips.
Pack your bag strategically with the heaviest items close to the body and make use of the pockets with lighter and smaller items. Be mindful of the weight of your bag as well, it should not be more than 10% of your body. Heavy bags not only can be painful to carry but also cause you to lean forward and increase your risk for rounded hunched shoulders and affect the curvature of your spine.
Adjust Your Posture
It is no myth that our increasing dependence on technology has affected our day-to-day lives–but it also affects our posture. More patients are reporting wrist pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain. When you bend your neck to look downward, every inch can put 10 additional pounds on your neck, so it’s no surprise that people complain of neck pain or tense shoulders and upper back strain.
We recommend limiting your technology usage with a 15-minute break every hour, stretching regularly, and allowing your eyes to relax. Bring any mobile devices to eye level and adjust computer monitors so that you can sit up straight with your chest out and shoulders back comfortably with both feet on the ground. While you read, be sure to keep your head over your neck and shoulders and rest your back against the chair.
Before engaging in any strenuous activity, remember to warm up and stretch for at least 15 minutes to allow your body to become more limber and reduce your risk of muscle strain. Don’t forget to cool down afterward as well!
You can even learn some seated stretches to help relieve tension and aches while seated in class.
Remember sleep is your body’s time to heal and repair from the day-to-day stresses of life. Adults need around 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and children need even more. Getting a consistent good night’s rest can help lower stress levels, ease chronic inflammation, and allow your body to rejuvenate.
For better sleep, we recommend avoiding exercising, caffeine, and electronics at least an hour before bed to allow your eyes and mind to wind down. Darken the room and lower the temperature to create a restful environment, some patients may even use a white noise machine to block out any distractions. Making a sleep schedule that tells you when to wake up and get ready for bed can also help your body to establish a routine so that you can function at your best.
For more information on how to keep your back healthy during this school year or to schedule an appointment, contact Tuck Chiropractic today.
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Chiropractic Care & Sports Injuries
If you are an athlete, you understand the demands your sport can place on your body. Unfortunately, all sports present injury risks and an injury can set you back regardless of your skill level. Recent studies have shown that regular chiropractic care can help athletes recover from various injuries. Our chiropractors will diagnose and treat the source of your pain and create a full rehabilitation program designed to your unique needs so that you can get back in the game feeling your best.
Common Sports Injuries
Athletes can suffer from injuries due to impact, repetitive motion, improper form, overtraining, failure to warm up, and accidents that can happen in a variety of ways depending on the activity and sport. We can treat a variety of sports-related injuries and conditions including:
- Back pain
- Herniated discs
- Joint injuries
- Knee injuries
- Neck pain
- Pinched nerves
- Pulled muscles
- Shin splints
It is important to seek treatment even if you think the injury may be minor as many injuries are overlooked and treated with rest alone, increasing the odds that they will heal improperly and cause chronic pain later. If an injury is left untreated pain can spread to other areas that may not even be directly related to the injury itself as your body tries to compensate and rebalance itself.
How We Can Help
As chiropractors, we use a variety of non-invasive methods to help you find relief and get back to the sport you love.
Regular chiropractic adjustments can realign vertebrae and alleviate pain, soreness, and aches from sports injuries. When your spine is aligned, this can alleviate tension in the body caused by misalignments and decrease inflammation as well as allow your nervous system to function optimally.
Massage therapy can also be used to help relieve stiff muscles, improve blood flow, to accelerate pain relief and recovery. We can also advise on physical therapy stretches and exercises to help you regain mobility and function at full strength.
Here are some recommendations on how to best avoid injuries and complications in the future:
- Don’t exercise through pain. If it hurts, stop. Working out should feel challenging but not painful. Even when you are done, your body shouldn’t hurt, but feel mildly sore and invigorated.
- Exercise at the proper level. If you are a beginner, start slowly and steadily. This will make you stronger at a faster pace than trying to run fast right away.
- Proper form and equipment use is important, so it’s always best to consult with a professional. Improper form leads to injury and is a waste of your exercise. Quality, not quantity, will get you results.
- Remember to stretch before and after working out and to always warm up beforehand. This will help lengthen your muscles so they can become more limber.
- Vary your workouts and take time to rest between them. You shouldn’t exercise the same muscles, in the same manner, every day. Exercise tears down muscles and it is the healing that makes them grow stronger!
If you are suffering from a sports-related injury and would like help on the path to recovery, we are here for you! Our chiropractors will evaluate your needs and develop a treatment plan based on your sport and condition so that you can heal naturally and get back onto the field as soon as possible without further complication. For more information on how we can help with sports-related injuries or to schedule a consultation, contact Tuck Chiropractic today.
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Chiropractic Care and Scoliosis
June is National Scoliosis Awareness Month. During this month, we would like to raise awareness about this condition and how as chiropractors we can help those who struggle with this condition.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a common spinal condition in which the vertebrae rotate causing the spine to curve abnormally. The degree of curvature varies based on the patient and can range from very minor misalignment to almost an S-shaped or C-shaped curve. For patients with minor conditions, symptoms may not be severe or need treatment. However, scoliosis can progress without observation and treatment and can become a debilitating condition significantly impacting ones’ day-to-day life. The increasing curvature can begin to impact muscle function, movement, and restrict breathing.
Many cases occur during growth spurts in puberty, but other causes can include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or be the result of a congenital condition present at birth. Though commonly associated with teenagers or children, adults can develop this condition later in life as they age.
Signs & Symptoms
The physical signs of scoliosis can include the following:
- Chronic back pain or muscle spasms
- Difficult breathing
- One hip higher than the other
- One shoulder blade may appear more forward than the other
- Uneven shoulders
In severe cases, due to the curvature of the spine, the rib cage may appear prominent on one side more than the other.
Diagnosis begins with a full review of medical history, followed by a thorough physical examination. A neurological exam may also be conducted to check for muscle weakness or abnormal reflexes. Imaging tests such as X-rays are the most accurate way to fully diagnose a patient with scoliosis. A positive diagnosis is confirmed with a curve greater than 10 degrees. A significant curve is considered between 25 to 30 degrees, and a curve exceeding 45 to 50 degrees is seen as severe.
For those with minor scoliosis symptoms, treatment may consist of monitoring the condition with X-rays to check that the curve isn’t worsening, physical therapy, and bracing to help straighten the spine and support proper curvature.
For patients with mild to moderate scoliosis, chiropractic care can be an ideal treatment option to help relieve symptoms and assist in correcting posture.
How We Can Help
It is important to note that chiropractic care cannot cure scoliosis, but when combined with your doctor’s treatment plan can help to adjust your overall spinal alignment and posture to decrease painful symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.
Scoliosis is an unnatural curvature of the spine, which can place strain on the muscles, nerves, and soft tissues around the spine. Chiropractic care can be used to help realign the spine and decrease strain and pressure on those soft tissues to reduce pain and inflammation in the area. By increasing joint mobility and improving nervous system function, your body has a better ability to manage and relieve symptoms caused by scoliosis.
Chiropractic care for scoliosis is a long-term treatment option as patients will need routine adjustments to gain the most from treatment. Your chiropractor will work with your other healthcare team members to ensure you are receiving the best care and that the prescribed treatment plan is working.
At first, treatment may be several times a week in the office for spinal adjustments. At-home exercises, stretches, bracing techniques, and physical therapy may also be recommended to you. Many patients report feeling significantly better after the first week of treatment, over time additional benefits include reduced pain and inflammation, improved range of motion and flexibility, and the ability to resume normal activities that were hindered by scoliosis symptoms leading to an overall better quality of life.
If you are struggling with the symptoms of scoliosis, chiropractic care may be the right treatment option for you. Our experienced chiropractic team can help reduce pain and discomfort along your spine. For more information on how we can help with scoliosis or to schedule a consultation, contact Tuck Chiropractic today.
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Top Trails In Southwest Virginia
At Tuck Clinic, we’re all about goal setting with our patients because beyond pain relief, we’re hoping to help people live the lifestyle that they want. This could mean being able to pick up their child after a long period of back pain that kept them from doing so. Or it could mean they get to hike back to the top of the mountain they haven’t hiked in 3 years due to joint pain. Whatever that goal is, we’re determined to help you get there.
For those who are looking to get back into hiking, or try it for the first time, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most breathtaking views in Southwest Virginia. These trails are all varying in difficulty for everyone to enjoy!
1. Cascades National Recreation Trail
The Cascades boasts a beautiful waterfall at the end of a easy to moderate 4 mile loop just outside of Blacksburg, Virginia. Get lost in the sound of steady streams of rushing water on this kid friendly hike.
2. Dragon’s Tooth
Dragon’s Tooth may sounds like an intimidating name, but the Catawba, Virginia hike is actually quite lovely. Just about 5.7 miles round trip, this hike may be considered difficult to brand new hikers but usually is about moderate. The sharp “tooth” like rocks at the summit are quite breathtaking.
3. McAfee’s Knob
This hike is perhaps the most picturesque hike in Southwest Virginia. Located in Catawba, Virginia, McAfee’s Knob is a moderate hike is about 8 miles round trip making it the longest on our list. Even though you can expect to spend a little longer on this hike, the top of the valley views are worth the wait.
Do you have a favorite fall trail? Let us know what we missed!
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Improve Your Posture
May is correct your posture month! Throughout May, we encourage our patients to be conscious of their posture! Though you may have heard it a hundred times growing up–good posture is important. Over time poor posture can increase your risk of pain, discomfort, and the likelihood of experiencing joint issues, lowering your quality of life. Below are some tips you can use to start improving your posture.
The Importance of Posture
Good posture is the position in which your body is held straight against gravity and helps your body to stand, walk, sit, and rest in a position that places the least amount of strain on the supporting muscles and ligaments. Strong postural muscles help to keep your bones and joints in alignment, decreasing the risk of abnormal wear on joint surfaces while also reducing stress on soft tissues and muscles to minimize the risk of injury, fatigue, and strain.
Having poor posture throughout your everyday activities and movements can place strain and stress on your body’s joints and muscles pulling them out of alignment. Over time this can lead to imbalance, soreness, and misalignment making the body prone to injury and pain. Common examples of poor posture include hunching while using electronic devices. This can cause the chest to tighten and strain the shoulders and upper back. Leaning forward towards devices can also put pressure on your neck as it pulls your head closer to the device.
Poor posture is not always the result of laziness or not knowing how to stand or sit properly. There are a variety of factors that can cause poor posture including:
- Improper footwear
- Stiff or tight muscles
How Chiropractic Care Can Help
If poor posture is caused by misalignments in joints or the spine, we can help to correct your postural issues such as slouching, hunched back, abnormal curvatures in the spine, an unlevel pelvis or hip, and forward head posture.
When you arrive at our office, your chiropractor will conduct a thorough assessment of your body to check for any restrictions, misalignments, or dysfunctions in your spine and joints. If any are found, we will make the necessary adjustments to restore mobility, range of motion, and remove any possible interference in nerve communication caused by your misalignments.
Your chiropractor will also check for any postural imbalances that may be impacting your body’s ability to function optimally such as a tilted pelvis that affects your gait. Once these restrictions are corrected, you can begin working on improving and maintaining proper posture through regular adjustments and various exercises. We can also offer advice on how to better your posture during your daily activities or recommend stretches or exercises to strengthen your core postural muscles.
Can I Improve My Posture at Home?
Yes! There are steps you can take at home to help improve your posture such as being aware of how you hold your body during your daily activities such as sitting, standing, sleeping, and even exercising.
Regularly stretching and strengthening your postural muscles will help to improve your flexibility, core strength, and posture. You can also correct poor posture habits, but this will take time and effort before the new ways become a habit. Below are some ways you can improve your posture during daily activities:
- While sitting:
- Adjust the backrest to support your lower or mid-back or use a back support or pillow to avoid strain or discomfort
- If you are sitting for long periods, avoiding staying in the same position and remember to take breaks
- Keep your feet level on the floor or a footrest and remember to leave a small gap between your knees and the front of your chair
- While standing:
- Bear your weight on the balls of your feet and if you are on your feet for long periods remember to shift your weight often
- Relax your shoulders and let your arms hang naturally at your sides
- Remember to stand with your knees slightly bent and with your legs shoulder-width apart
- While lying down:
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach
- Make sure your mattress firmness and pillow are ideal for keeping your neck and spine aligned
- Side-sleepers should place support between their legs to avoid discomfort while back sleepers need to support underneath their knees
Once your posture is adjusted and corrected, it is important to maintain it by being aware of how you hold your body throughout the day. We are here to help on your journey to living a healthy life and this includes your posture. For more information on how to improve your posture or to schedule a consultation today, contact Tuck Chiropractic.
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Dr. Tiffany Grace: Mom’s Migraine Relief Translated into a Career in Healthcare
Many young children go through the cycle of wanting to be an astronaut, a veterinarian, and a firefighter when they grow up. Often times, their parents have their own ideas of what their children should grow up to be, too. But for Tuck Clinic’s Dr. Tiffany Grace, she and her mother were in alignment on what she should grow up to be from a young age.
Dr. Grace’s mother had suffered from migraine headaches and could never seem to find relief until she sought treatment from a chiropractor. From the age of four, Tiffany heard her mother praise the practice for her relief and insisted that she or one of her brothers became chiropractors. All of the siblings nodded and shrugged it off, as most kids do until Dr. Grace started seeing the chiropractor as a swimmer in high school. Though she never really experienced pain, she noticed a huge difference in her performance if she got an adjustment prior to race day. From that point on, she knew she wanted to help people improve their lives in the same way.
Providing Pain Relief and Preventative Care
“I love my practice. Day in and a day out, I get to see people improve and live better lives because of what we’re able to do here,” says Dr. Grace about daily life in chiropractic care. “They can go from being debilitated to being able to do the things they want to do on a regular basis.”
Despite what some may think, paying a visit to Dr. Grace at the Chiropractic Clinic in Rocky Mount doesn’t have to mean that you’ll be going forever. We work with patients to change their lifestyles so that they can function on their own.
“We’ll always be here and there’s certainly a benefit to maintenance care, but treating acute pain doesn’t have to be long term,” says Dr. Grace.
One of Dr. Grace’s biggest wins as a chiropractor is having the opportunity to treat families, specifically infants and children. Though not typically the first thought on the top of a parents’ mind for treating their children, chiropractic care can be extremely beneficial to growing little ones.
“It’s very rewarding to see kids on maintenance and wellness care that don’t suffer from ear infections or colic,” says Dr. Grace. Even growing pains can be relieved through the right chiropractic adjustment.
Beyond the Clinic Walls
Beyond the walls of her office, Dr. Grace enjoys spending time with her own two little boys. Bode and Drew are six and four and keep her very busy with sports, church and friends. She enjoys running and often competes in local races. In her free time, she enjoys spending time helping rescue dogs with the Franklin County Humane Society.
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Chiropractic Care As A Family Affair
When most people think of their ‘go-to’ family doctor, the first thing that often comes to mind is a general physician or pediatrician to go see when an illness pops up. When you feel a cold take a turn for the worst, you often call in for an appointment to get some antibiotics. Or maybe you take your little ones there to find a solution for an ear infection. On the contrary, Megan Sawyers’ family calls Dr. Grace at Tuck Chiropractic Clinic in Rocky Mount, VA for situations like these.
From Migraine Relief to a Lifetime of Wellness
About a decade ago, Megan Sawyers had recently relocated to Franklin County and was in search of someone to help her find relief from her recurring migraines. When she asked around, she got a lot of recommendations for Tuck Chiropractic Clinic. What started as a simple visit for a migraine quickly became a longstanding relationship for the overall wellness of her entire family of five.
After a quick X-ray and her first spinal adjustment, Megan really began to see the benefits of chiropractic care. Not only was her head pain relieved, but she was also receiving adjustments that also helped her back and neck feel better. After building a relationship with Dr. Grace and telling her about her troubles with her infant son’s ear infections, Dr. Grace invited her to bring him in for his very first adjustment.
“In my opinion, those adjustments saved him from having to get tubes put in his ears,” Megan recalls the fast relief her son found from his treatment.
Pediatric Chiropractic care is something that Dr. Grace and Megan are very passionate about. Research suggests that chiropractic may be able to help children with health problems that aren’t necessarily musculoskeletal in nature, such as colic and ear infections. Megan believes her children are living proof.
After bringing her son for more sessions with Dr. Grace and continuing her own wellness and maintenance program, she decided to bring her other children to see Dr. Grace from birth. She’s very proud to say that her daughter, who is nine years old, has only ever received one round of antibiotics in her life. She believes that her chiropractic care, combined with the right healthy habits has kept her family happy and healthy.
Becoming an Advocate for Wellness Care
As someone who works in the public school systems, Megan has the unique opportunity to talk to parents and fellow teachers about her experiences at Tuck Chiropractic Clinic. She jokes that she tells anyone who will listen about her experience.
“It completely changed my viewpoint of the entire medical field. I bring my children to the chiropractor instead of a medical doctor because I know that an adjustment can provide real benefits to their health,” says Megan. “It’s a totally different outlook on how to treat your bodies for everything.”
Because chiropractic care takes a non-invasive, non-medicated approach to health and wellness, the body is able to be treated as a whole instead of targeting just the symptoms. With a deep understanding of how the musculoskeletal system can affect the rest of the body, chiropractors are able to provide a well-rounded care program that both relieves pain and encourages healthier living through diet and exercise.
Over the past ten years, Megan Sawyers and her family have witnessed these benefits time and time again. But more than the chiropractic care they receive, they receive the care and attention of Dr. Grace, someone who is truly committed to the wellness of her patients. Though they only go in about once a month for their maintenance appointments, everyone at the office knows them by name and Dr. Grace will always ask how everyone is doing and tries to find any way she can help the Sawyers family live a happy, healthy life.
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Start Small To Win Big
How to Be Consistent With Your Health and Fitness
Sometimes it’s seemingly little things that make the biggest difference. Here are some small changes to your regular routine that, if you implement them, may help you accomplish your larger health goals.
Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect posits this simple formula for large-scale life change: “Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long-term results.” Hardy explains how working out for 10 to 20 minutes each day can be more effective than waiting for the two or three days a month hit the gym for a full hour or two, how using the drive-time of your daily commute to listen to inspiring and informative audio can quickly add up to the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree, how packing your lunch can lead to a hefty investment income, and other small steps that produce fantastic results when sustained over time.
Little Steps Lead to Big Strides
Step #1: Drink a full glass of water at each meal
Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, Director of Nutrition for WebMD recommends regular water consumption for a variety of health benefits, including reducing your calorie consumption (by substituting water for sugary drinks like sweet tea or sodas), maintaining healthy skin, energizing your muscles, and flushing your kidneys (which reduces your risk for kidney stones). Making a full glass of water part of your meal routine can keep you more energized throughout the day, helping you to stay motivated to make other healthy choices.
Step #2: Make time for fun each week
Adding a little fun to your schedule can go a long way towards strengthening relationships, maintaining balance, and improving your overall satisfaction. Although it may not be easy, taking steps to add fun to your life is actually important. To start, try to clear your schedule at least one night a week, even if that means saying “no” to something you previously said “yes” to. Researchers Wilcox and Dew suggest that establishing a regular weekly or biweekly date night can have significant positive effects on marital or relational health due to increased communication, building trust, and creating positive memories together. Other ways to add fun to your schedule include making exercise fun by trying a new sport or joining a dance class, making time for a family dinner and game night, or just being silly – like hosting a murder mystery or going to see a comedy show. All of these encourage real “face time” with the people around you, a key to fighting feelings of isolation, loneliness, and melancholy.
Step #3: Get up from your desk and walk around at least once every 2 hours
In a more and more sedentary culture, sitting disease poses a real problem for many people. According to Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. of the Mayo Clinic, “50 to 70 percent of people spend six or more hours sitting per day” which can have several deleterious effects on our bodies. If you do work in a sedentary position and you drive or can’t arrange for an adjustable sit-stand desk, set a timer so that you take a break from your chair at least once every two hours. Not only will taking a stretch break reduce potential risk factors for back pain and other more serious conditions (like obesity and metabolic syndrome), it also can help increase your focus and productivity. A few easy ways to incorporate more walking are:
- getting up to replenish your water bottle (which will probably result in more bathroom breaks – and more walking)
- taking 15 minutes of your lunch break to walk
- walking over to talk to someone instead of calling or sending an email.
Just a few simple changes to your workday routine can add up to better health and a decreased risk of some diseases associated with excessive sitting.
Step #4: Stop the sugary drinks
As much as you may feel like you “need” that latte in the morning to wake up or “have to have” your Mountain Dew or Diet Coke, these caffeine drips actually have the reverse effect in the long run because of the sugar or caffeine crash. Your body gets used to having “energy help” which can actually reduce your metabolism. Diet drinks are no better; the key to fueling your body well is to stay away from sugar spikes (especially those caused by refined sugar or artificial sweeteners) and to maintain a relatively steady glucose baseline.
A few alternative ways to perk up in the morning or afternoon include:
- eating a cold, crisp apple (a natural source of caffeine)
- having a banana to raise your blood sugar when it dips in the mid to late afternoon (2 to 4 pm)
- reducing your carbs and replacing with veggie snacks and/or healthy protein sources (in moderate quantities).
These changes will help your body find its natural rhythm rather than depending on external sources for the energy you need. Cutting down the sugar and caffeine could also help you sleep more soundly, giving you more energy throughout the day. Be forewarned, though, cutting out sugar and caffeine isn’t easy, especially if it’s been a long-standing habit. Ask for accountability and have natural alternatives (like your apple) available for when cravings make it tough to stand your ground.
Step #5: Get regular chiropractic adjustments
Routine chiropractic can be another small step toward a healthy lifestyle. Many patients may initially come in for help with a specific issue and find that their pain is greatly relieved or eliminated in a relatively short period of time. However, many people also receive periodic spinal checkups, maintenance care, or wellness care, all of which can be very valuable as preventive measures. Receiving chiropractic care on a monthly or bimonthly basis can help you feel better by reducing pressure on nerves and improving range of motion. So, even if you aren’t suffering from any acute pain or chronic conditions, getting adjusted can still help you stay healthy and pain-free and keep you more limber and flexible.
The Bigger Picture
Changes, whether small or large, are often difficult to make. It is easy to give into the seemingly urgent demands of the moment without looking at the importance of the bigger picture. Saying “no” to Jimmy’s second sport of the season for date night or family time won’t be easy. Choosing water and an apple instead of a sports drink or diet coke could be tough to get used to at first, but in the long run, those small steps will carry you further than you thought you could go.
We’re Here To Help
As you work toward your personal goals this year, we’re here to help. Our doctors are committed to working with you to achieve your health goals one step at a time. Visit one of our 11 locations for a consultation to help you lay a foundation for personal success.
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