Here are five important goals to set for the new year to get healthy and stay healthy:
Establish Good Work Habits: Goal setting is really important. If something’s written down, there is more chance of getting it done. You have varying levels of goals, short, medium, kind of long-term goals, but I think an easy fix for everybody in the new year is to assess your ergonomics. The number one cause of pain and disability in America is lower back pain.
If we’re sitting in poor posture, i.e. we have poor ergonomics, then obviously over time that can break us down, particularly for our corporate athletes who are dealing a lot with that upper crossed syndrome, and the lower crossed syndrome. Over time that’s going to create pain and dysfunction.
If we’re consistently sitting or standing in poor posture, that’s going to break us down so having good ergonomics is critically important for a healthy spine and just overall well-being and function. Motion is lotion. We’re designed to move, so if we’re sedentary in nature and we’re sitting in poor posture, that’s how we’re going to break down over time. Let’s try and be proactive in our habits so then we’re not being reactive, i.e. we’re preventing pain by picking up good work habits.
Make sure we’re sitting correctly, make sure we’re using a sit-stand desk, make sure we’re sitting and standing during our work day. Make sure we’re breaking the day up and performing postural breaks so we’re engaging the muscles that get weak and lazy due to inactivity.
Exercise Safely: Getting on that health kick in the new year is probably at the top of everybody’s list. Chiropractic can help in many, many, many ways but, essentially, I want to focus the conversation around compensation and how compensation can create injuries and dysfunction. Our patient base here at our clinic in downtown Chicago is what we call corporate athletes, they are in a sedentary environment. They are not particularly functional in terms of their workday due to their work role, so they are sitting or standing, they are not moving and are sedentary in nature.
The muscles that pick up on movement are really important in stabilizing joints like the spine, the shoulder, the hip, or the knee. If we’re sedentary in nature, these muscles that kind of stabilize joints get weak and lazy so we create these compensatory issues. You have that typical upper crossed syndrome. It’s where the head shifts forward, our shoulders round, all those big muscles in our shoulders get really tight and kind of restrict the range of motion. Your lower back, same thing. The big muscles in your lower back get really tight, your hips get tight, your pelvic floor gets weak, the glutes and the hamstrings. Now if you’ve been sitting in a sedentary environment, the muscles that are designed to move and stabilize you have gotten weak and lazy due to inactivity and then all of a sudden in the new year, we start to move while muscles that essentially are moving us aren’t the muscles that should be doing that.
When people have been sitting and leaning forward, these big muscles in the lower back tend to dominate and take over. So now if we go to move and the lower back muscles are moving you instead of doing their job, which is essentially to stabilize you, and then we’re exercising around that compensation. Over time, that’s going to create subluxations and compensation. The stabilizing joints that aren’t moving have shifted and obviously compensations are the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and soft tissue are working hard when they shouldn’t. So, over time that can break us down.
Sleep Better: Chiropractors focus on treatment of the spine and the nervous system. The nervous system’s the most important thing we have. It literally controls everything we do, how we feel and function physically and physiologically. But within that nervous system, you have two types of a nervous system. Essentially you have sympathetic, which is what we call fight or flight, so being rear-ended on the freeway and eyes go wide, all that adrenaline, hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Then you have parasympathetic, which is where the body’s allowed to essentially, what we call, rest and digest. If we’re going to get a good night’s sleep, we need to be in a parasympathetic nervous system so the body can regenerate over the night and prepare us for the next day.
If your spine is subluxated, that means a joint has shifted, it’s creating stress and tension on the nervous system, and that is creating stress. Stress puts it in the sympathetic nervous system, so then obviously getting a good night’s sleep is going to be difficult for the body.
Getting your spine adjusted can remove the subluxation in your spine. You don’t get one adjustment and then you sleep better. You’ve got to go through a corrective care plan, but if your spine is less subluxated and you have less stress on the nervous system, well, the nervous system can be allowed to function better. As a result, we are going to function better physiologically, so we will have a better ability to sleep, improved mood, energy, and digestive system.
Lower Stress: Lowering stress can be done. We call it the 360 degrees of wellness. Chiropractors can relieve stress on the spine by getting you adjusted and then by educating you on good ergonomics and balanced muscle strength to handle the micro stress.
Chiropractors focus on a whole wellness approach to patients’ care. We are educating our patients on what we call “think well, move well and eat well”. The right foods we should be eating, the foods that we should be avoiding, the things that we should be trying to supplement in our diet, like foods that are high in antioxidants that take away the free radicals which is oxygen that damages the cells in the body from stress. Then just techniques on handling stressful environments.
A body that’s not in stress is going to be able to express itself as it should optimally and that’s going to allow us to function better.
Visit a Chiropractor: I think it all depends on who you are and where you are in your health journey, but for us our goal is to get people into that wellness program. We focus more on an intensive corrective care program, which is going to address our patients’ symptoms.
If you have neck and upper back pain that was predominantly caused from poor posture in the work day, you should go and see a chiropractor. However, the patient has to be proactive and use a sit-stand desk, take postural breaks, keep on top of the diet, move well.
The chiropractor can fix the subluxations, the alignment of the spine, and help balance all the muscles. By continuing to see a chiropractor you’re going to make sure that the spine is absolutely taken care of. A spine that’s in alignment and a nervous system that’s stress free is just going to allow you and the body to function as it should and express health.
Remember chiropractic care can be so much more than just an adjustment. If we’re talking specifically to the patients in our office then obviously when you come in, you’ll get your spine adjusted, that’s to get the joints moving and obviously keep the joints moving. Then, a lot of our patients are doing physical therapy to supplement the adjustment, so working on the core, the glutes, and the hamstrings. If you go and see a chiropractor who’s worth their salt, they’re going to evaluate your spine and all the muscle and tendons that work with it and figure out a plan for you to get the joint moving. Then they will make sure that the muscles are doing their job so when you move you’ve got stability in your movement because if you don’t, over time that’s how we compensate and break down.