The summer months bring nice weather and the desire to get outside and be active. Chiropractic care can help prepare the body for outdoor activities and sports by keeping the spine healthy and improving range of motion and joint function.
June is known as the great outdoors month when people are encouraged to get out and explore nature. How can chiropractic care help people transition their bodies from being mostly sedentary in winter to engaging in more active outdoor activities?
Dr. Luke Stringer: June is the great outdoors month. We practice downtown here in Chicago, so we have a lot of weekend warriors here in the city and we’re right down by the lake. So typically, our patients are the typical corporate athlete, which involves, what? Sedentary activity. So, if we’re sedentary, like you discussed, in the winter, what happens is we’re obviously sitting, and/or we’re not moving as much. So, what happens is joints become fixed and do not move well. We call this a subluxation. Also, muscles that are designed to stabilize the spine, for example, the core stabilizes the hips, the hamstrings and the glutes physically move us along, well, they’re muscles that pick up on movement. So, if we’re sedentary and joints aren’t moving and then we get up to move and the muscles that work off of movement haven’t been moved due to, the average temperature in the month of March in Chicago here is 36 degrees, you’re not really getting outside, then those muscles get weak and lazy.
Then, all of a sudden, we’re up and moving with joints that aren’t moving and muscles that should be stabilized aren’t stabilizing us. This creates a subluxation complex. This creates joints that shift, shifts create stress and tension on joint, tissue, nerve and that’s going to create pain and dysfunction. The more active we are, those muscles that should be working aren’t working, in turn requires muscle that shouldn’t be working as hard to work harder. So, this also creates a compensatory issue, which can just lead to an increase in pain and dysfunction, particularly when we’re getting outside and we’re moving more.
So, chiropractic care can do what? Well, chiropractic care can find those subluxations, which are joints that aren’t moving, and/or they’ve shifted, and we can increase the biomechanics and get that joint functioning better. And chiropractors can prescribe physical therapy based on orthopedic and functional exams that are performed on the patient to focus on those muscle groups that aren’t doing their job to create good movement and stability in the area that we’re moving, typically the lower back and the hip, and/or the neck, upper back, and shoulders.
People of all ages enjoy hiking so how can chiropractic care help get the body in shape for long hikes and help prevent injuries while hiking?
Dr. Luke Stringer: I think it’s all based around range of motion. Prerequisite for a healthy joint is full range of motion. So, if a joint is aberrant in its range of motion, i.e., it’s not moving as well as it should, or not moving as much as it should, well, the muscles that cross that joint are then going to have to work harder. So, if the muscle is working harder, and that could be a muscle, a ligament, or a tendon, typically a muscle that moves us, if they’re working harder, then over time they can break down. When they break down, those muscles become weak and inflexible. So then as we start picking up the miles in terms of a hike, well, if we’ve got a joint that’s not moving as well, that means the muscle has to work harder. And if we’re walking a lot more, longer, hiking more, then obviously that’s going to increase the stress and tension in the joint and the tissue, which can create pain and dysfunction.
So, what can chiropractic care do? Chiropractic care can get the joint moving and improve its range of motion through both a blend of chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue therapy. And then obviously the tissue that becomes damaged and/or compensatory can be addressed through soft tissue therapy adjustments and physical therapy. So, when you are supplementing good joint function, good balanced muscle strength, and then we’re focusing on what we call that posterior chain, core muscles, glute muscles, hamstring muscles, and they’re nice and active, then we can hike and hike more without having to worry about pain and dysfunction and an increase in injury.
June is also Men’s Health Month, and golf is a popular sport for men. So, in what ways can chiropractic care help men improve their golf game?
Dr. Luke Stringer: We work with a couple of golf performance centers here in the city of Chicago. So, golf is obviously a sport that requires a lot of rotation just due to that golf swing. Well, in life we walk north to south, we don’t do much east to west movement, and then we typically don’t rotate. So if a joint is stuck and it’s not rotating well, then I’m trying to think of the technical term here, then the backswing, that’s the one, on the golf swing, you’re going to be limited, you’re not going to get as far back. Then the distance that the club has to travel, you can’t generate as much force and velocity. Then as you contact the ball or follow through, the rotation is really important. So, if you’re limited in your rotational follow-through, that’s going to affect the way you contact the ball and the trajectory of the ball off the golf club.
So typically for us, we have a lot of golfers as patients. We’re focusing on good pelvic floor activation because the core stabilizes the hips and we want a nice strong base for the spine to rotate through. And then we’re focusing on good biomechanics of the spine, particularly in that kind of lateral bending, in that rotational aspect, which are the two kinds of main movements of the golf swing. And then good balanced muscle strength, and good tissue health to make sure that that tissue allows that joint to move as fully or in as much range of motion as possible. And then when you blend all that together and you’ve got good control of the pelvic floor and the hips and the lower back with good range of motion and balanced muscle strength, we’ve seen a bunch of patients just add yards and yards onto their golf swing, which they absolutely love.
Again, for your male patients, what is the most common sports injury that you help treat with chiropractic care?
Dr. Luke Stringer: I think that’s an open-ended question, but I’ll give you the context that we have here in downtown. Our patient base is essentially corporate athletes, so a lot of sedentary activity. Our patients, our weekend warriors like to get outside and exercise, hit the lake, hit the gym. So typically for us, it’s going to be related to upper crossed syndrome. So upper crossed syndrome is where the neck shifts, the shoulders round, and we get really compensatory in that area. So, shoulder injuries. That can come through volleyball, come through golf, come through going to the gym.
And obviously in the lower back, it’s called lower crossed syndrome. The core gets weak, big muscles in the lower back dominate, and we get really tight in the front of the hip. So, typically that’s going to contribute to low back pain. And that can come from, you name it, golf, biking, running, a kind of different wide varying kind of sports.
They are the kind of main two areas that we’re typically seeing. We’re about to see some good weather here finally in Chicago so we’re going to be seeing an increase, I feel, in our patients coming in with the shoulder, lower back, hip, and knee pain.
In what other ways can chiropractic care prepare the body for a healthy summer season of sports and outdoor activities?
Dr. Luke Stringer: I think many ways in regard to what we just discussed, getting the joints moving, getting the joints moving with stability, firing up those muscle groups that have become weak and lazy through the winter months. That’s just talking about function.
Remember, chiropractic is so much more than just pain and dysfunction. It stimulates the nervous system, the nervous system controls everything we do, how the body feels and functions. So, we’re focusing on the upper cervical spine. That’s going to fire up the immune system.
When we’re outside and we’re hiking, we’re around dusty trails and things of that nature we haven’t been used to, and allergies kind of ramp up. Chiropractic care can help with things that you wouldn’t think of in regard to that type of response to getting outside from a sterile environment of being inside to an outdoor environment with the pollen and the dust, et cetera. So, chiropractic care can really bulletproof your spine and essentially bulletproof your nervous system to get outside and move well and then function well when we’re outside.
So, you name it, chiropractic care can absolutely supplement your lifestyle and see big improvements across the board in both how you feel and how you function.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit www.southloopchiropractor.com or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.