Take a Stand for Health

Women jumping

Take a Stand for Health

By now you may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” Beyond being clever, the catchphrase, coined by Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative director Dr. James Levine, underscores a disturbing fact. According to Levine, we lose two hours of our lives for every hour we spend sitting. In fact, in an interview with the LA Times, Levine makes a further comparison: “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”1 With the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys showing that 50-70 percent of Americans sit for six or more hours each day, sitting has truly become an epidemic2.

The sitting epidemic is fueled by contemporary culture and lifestyle, particularly in the U.S. Our bodies and brains developed in response to particular environmental pressures and an active lifestyle. These days, most of us are not exposed to life-threatening scenarios on a regular basis. We exert little energy in our daily efforts to survive. Even our schools and workplaces promote the sedentary lifestyle: children are expected to sit still for hours upon end, and our workplaces have us sitting at desks, often typing away at keyboards for most of the day. Even our recreational habits have become less active: video games, instant access to movies and television shows, and virtual social environments tempt us to sit more and stand less.

The physical effects of this cultural shift are daunting. Excessive sitting has been linked to hormonal changes, increased inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.3 From a chiropractic standpoint, sitting can distort the natural curvature of the spine, cause undue stress on nerves and ligaments, overstress muscle tissue, and compress the vertebral discs and spinal joints. As we age, too much sitting leads to disability. According to an NPR report, research out of Northwestern University found that, “For people 60 and older, each additional hour a day spent sitting increases the risk of becoming physically disabled by about 50 percent — no matter how much exercise they get.” With U.S. Census data revealing that nearly half of the population over age 65 have a disability, the impact on our aging population, their families, and their communities is significant.4

The science behind the sitting epidemic revolves around a neat acronym: NEAT. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Along with exercise activity thermogenesis, NEAT is the third component of human energy expenditure—calories burned during daily activity (basal metabolic rate, which is the energy required for basic body functions, and the energy needed to process food are the other two.) Some people have a “NEAT switch” that gets them up and moving after over-eating, while other people do not, which can lead to obesity. Surprisingly, the simple act of standing burns more calories than sitting, as noted in the table below.

Occupational Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)*
Occupation type NEAT, cal/d
Chair-bound 300
Seated work (no option of moving) 700
Seated work (discretion and requirement to move) 1000
Standing work (eg, homemaker, cashier) 1400
Strenuous work (eg, farming) 2300
*Data based on a basal metabolic rate of 1,600 cal/d. Adapted from Black AE, Coward WA, Cole TJ, Prentice AM. Human energy expenditure in affluent societies: an analysis of 574 doubly-labelled water measurements. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996;50:72-925

So what can we do about this national health crisis? Unlike with anti-smoking campaigns, we can’t tax chairs and benches, people can’t be banned from sitting in public spaces, and we can’t enact a legal sitting age. We can, however, actively participate in our own health. As shown above, just standing makes a difference. Some workplaces and even schools are using sit-to-stand desks, which allow the user to set their workspace at a different height in order to stand. If your boss is not quite there yet, or if you’re retired, here are some simple things to do to reduce the effects of sitting.

  • Stand. It seems obvious, but, as shown above, standing burns more calories. Instead of just sitting during a lunch break, try standing for a bit, or even doing some simple stretches like bending forward and reaching for your toes to get the blood flowing. Standing a little more each day not only increases your metabolism, it also helps tone muscles, burns calories, and increases blood flow.6
  • Walk. Directly related to standing, of course, is walking. You should get up and walk around every 20-30 minutes.
  • Stretch at your desk. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and hold that position for several seconds before releasing. Gently stretch your fingers, hands, wrists and arms by bending at the joints. Straighten your legs and point and flex your toes. These simple stretches are great for multitasking: the person on the other end of the phone will never know!
  • Do eye yoga or eye palming to stretch and moisten your eyes. Try moving your eyes in circles of varying sizes, or doing a figure eight with them. Or you can stare at the tip of your nose—and no, your face won’t freeze like that. Eye palming is simply cupping your hands over your eyes and breathing. As well as giving your eyes a break, this can make your vision clearer and reduce headaches.7
  • Use good posture. Your mother was never more correct. Good posture goes a long way to preserving the overall health of your spine and reducing stress on the nervous tissue of the spinal cord (which provides nerve input to all your muscles and internal organs.) Maintaining and supporting the natural curves of the spine is paramount to spinal health. While sitting at your desk/computer, use a lumbar and/or a thoracolumbar support cushion height along with proper workstation ergonomics (correct workstation, chair, and monitor height, proper keyboard placement, etc.).
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise. With summer coming, it’s easier to jog, swim, or hike, and there’s always the treadmill or elliptical machines at the gym. While, by definition, exercising doesn’t affect your NEAT, it does help your overall metabolism and health.

Moving around during the workday not only benefits individuals, but companies and schools as well. Research shows that productivity and focus improve if employees and students have the ability to stand or move during the day.8 According to Dr. Levine, “This is about hard-core productivity. You will make money if your workforce gets up and gets moving. Your kids will get better grades if they get up and get moving.”9 Like ergonomic keyboards, standing desks are becoming a workplace necessity.

With summer coming, we’re likely to be more active outside of work. Warm weather tends to get us out-of-doors on the weekends and inspires us to exercise more overall. But after spending the weekend on the trail, don’t forget your body during the weekday grind. Take a stand for your health by taking a stand at work.

1MacVean, Mary. “‘Get Up!’ or Lose Hours of Your Life Every Day, Scientist Says.” Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2014. http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-get-up-20140731-story.html.

2“Questionnaires, Datasets, and Related Documentation.” Accessed May 11, 2017. https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/Default.aspx.

3“Sitting Disease: The New Health Epidemic.” The Chopra Center, August 14, 2014. http://www.chopra.com/articles/sitting-disease-the-new-health-epidemic.

4“Sit More, And You’re More Likely To Be Disabled After Age 60.” NPR.org. Accessed May 4, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/02/19/279460759/sit-more-and-youre-more-likely-to-be-disabled-after-age-60.

5Ibid.

6Just Stand “Burn Calories at Work.” http://www.juststand.org/Portals/3/literature/Burn_Calories_at_Work_Flyer.pdf Accessed May 11, 2017.

7 “Sitting Disease: The New Health Epidemic.” The Chopra Center, August 14, 2014. http://www.chopra.com/articles/sitting-disease-the-new-health-epidemic.

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Why do I have fallen arches?

Our feet are charged with supporting our entire bodies, maintaining our balance, and acting as shock absorbers. They are under constant strain: even a gentle stroll causes stress to the feet, particularly the arches. And because our arches can wear down overtime, this stress can lead to pain in other regions of the body as well as in the feet.

imbalance

Fallen arches can affect your entire body. (image courtesy of Footlevelers.com)

What we call the arch of the foot is actually three arches made up of the bones of the feet. Ligaments and tendons made of semi-flexible fibers connect these bones. The fibers bend and stretch as we walk, but, unlike other more flexible fibers in the body, they are less elastic and more plastic (rigid). Consider the difference between a rubber band and a piece of taffy. If you stretch out a rubber band, it will snap back to its original shape. But if you pull on a piece of hard taffy, the taffy will just stretch. It will regain some of its original shape, but as you continue pulling it, the taffy will begin to lengthen until it wears thin and loses its shape: once you stretch a piece of taffy, it will never be the same again.

The arches of your feet are like taffy. Normal use slowly breaks down the fibers in the arches until they can no longer support the rest of the foot. The arches collapse, causing overpronation of the foot which pulls on the fascia of the bottoms of the feet and can lead to plantar fasciitis as well as pain in the ankles, Achilles tendon, and the inside of the knee. Fallen arches can also cause or contribute to lower back pain and lateral hip pain.

Fallen arches occur more often over the age of forty and in women. While they can occur through normal wear and tear, a fall or regular participation in high-impact sports can increase the likelihood of damage to the arches. In addition, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and steroid injections may contribute to the degradation of the arch. Your genes can play a role in the development of fallen arches or flat feet as well. For example, if your mother or father had dropped arches or flat feet, you may as well.

The good news is that you can do something about it. Orthotics can provide support when your arch collapses, preventing plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, Achilles tendonitis, and ankle pain from developing. If you are already suffering from arch-related issues, orthotics can lessen the pain and correct the strain on your feet and bring that spring back into your step.

arch-madness

Our office recommends non-custom Superfeet (priced at $36-$46) and custom orthotics made from your own imprint by Footlevelers.

 

The Magic of Kinesio Tape ®

stock-photo-54581982-kinesio-tape-lotus-position

In the past ten years more and more people have been noticing Olympic, professional, and amateur athletes as well as coworkers in the office with colorful strips of tape all over their bodies. This wonderful and recently recognized material is called Kinesio Tape®. Health care professionals around the world use this modality for its “grasping and elevating” effect on the skin to support and/or rehabilitate muscles and joints. It does this by increasing lymphatic drainage, which in turn elevates circulation and reduces pain by taking the pressure and irritation off of the neuro and sensory receptors of the body (3).

Kinesio Tape® was developed by Dr. Kenzo Kase, a chiropractor and acupuncturist, to mimic the natural qualities of the human skin. It is non restrictive, does not create drag on the skin and allows for full range of motion of the involved joint. Kinesio Tape® is made of 100% cotton fibers with acrylic adhesive; it is heat activated, and contains no latex.

Kinesio Tape’s® Benefits Include:

  • increasing circulation and lymphatic flow
  • supporting and assisting muscular function
  • supporting fascial tissue
  • decreasing pain
  • improving joint function

When using the tape over wrist extensors, Kinesio® has been scientifically proven to significantly increase grip strength by facilitating the actual muscle contraction (1). It has also been demonstrated to increase the flexibility of the lumbar spine even 48 hours after removal of the tape! In this particular research study the tape did not need tension on the muscle to get positive results (2).

If you are still skeptical about Kinesio Tape®, here are a few more benefits:

It’s Used To:

  • correct muscle function
  • improve circulation
  • relieve pain
  • reposition subluxed joints (3).

Why Use Kinesio Tape®?:

  • Durable and Economical: it can be worn 24 hours, even in the shower, for up to 4 days straight with continual benefits.
  • Versatile: with over 1,200 different applications, a single injury has multiple taping techniques to choose from.
  • Revolutionary: one of a kind, designed to lift the skin away from the muscle to decrease pain and increase circulation.
  • Rehabilitates: assisting in support, flexibility and rehabilitation.
  • Unique: being 100% cotton, hypoallergenic and latex free, this elastic tape makes for a breathable and comfortable fit that comes in an array of colors and sizes (3).

It is used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions:

  • Forearm tendonitis (tennis and golfer’s elbow)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Shoulder tendonitis/rotator cuff syndrome
  • Shoulder instability/sprain/strain
  • Shoulder bursitis
  • AC joint sprain
  • Hip bursitis
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Shin splints
  • Hamstring/quadricep strain/contusion
  • Patellar tendonitis
  • Knee sprain/knee bursitis
  • Condromalacia patella
  • Plantar fascitis/achilles tendonitis
  • Ankle sprain
  • Whiplash
  • Neck/mid back/low back sprain/strain injuries
  • And More!

This new, non restrictive, supportive tape is a wonderful new adjunct to aid in the healing process of the above listed musculoskeletal conditions.

However, Kinesio Tape® needs to be applied by a skilled health care provider or, at least the individual must be trained how the apply it for the specific injury or condition.

Don’t let that injury drag on and prevent you from getting back to living your life. Consider an application of Kinesio Tape® and let a little magic begin!

 

References

(1)Immediate and Delayed Effects of Forearm Kinesio Taping on Grip Strength

August 5, 2014. Hosein Kouhzad Mohannadi, Khosro Khademi Kalantari, Sedighe Sadat Naeimi.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.ezproxy.uvm.edu/pmc/articles/PMC4222018/

(2)The effect of kinesio taping in forward bending of the lumbar spine.

September 26, 2014. Lemos TV, Albino AC, Matheus JP, Barbosa Ade M.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.ezproxy.uvm.edu/pubmed/25276018

(3)http://www.kinesiotaping.com/about/about-video

Use of Foam Rollers – Tips and Techniques

Benefits of using a foam roller is comparable to a deep tissue massage, myofascial release and myofascial trigger point therapy. Myofascial trigger points are taut bands or knots in the muscle tissue that can refer pain to other areas. For example, a trigger point in a gluteal muscle may refer pain down the leg. Trigger points can also limit range-of-motion, inhibit muscle strength and cause muscle fatigue. Regular work can increase flexibility and performance while decreasing muscle tension and pain.

Maximize the effectiveness of the foam roller by incorporating it into your daily stretching routine. Use the roller before and after activity, and always roll before you stretch. This will help to warm up cold muscles and prepare them for deeper stretching.
Make sure you roll on soft tissue and not over joints, ligaments or bony protrusions. Start by placing your body on a roller and slowly roll up and down the muscle. If you find a knot or tight band, hold that spot and try to feel the tissue release and soften underneath the pressure. Take deep breaths and try to keep your body as relaxed as possible.

Use of the foam roller can be painful. If an area is too painful to roll, place your body on the roller for 15 seconds before moving on to the next spot. As the tissue starts to loosen up you should be able to roll with less pain.

For low back lumbar extensor muscles:
Position the roller so that it’s in line with your spine. To focus on your right side, roll your body to the left, keeping your spine parallel to the roller and stop on the muscles that run along the length of your spine. Hold and allow your back to relax. Repeat on the left side.
15

For lateral low back obliques & quadratus lumborum muscles:
Position yourself as shown placing the foam roller between your ribs and hip. Slowly roll backwards until you feel a stretch and pressure in your lower back region. Hold on tight spots until you feel the tissue soften. Do not hold on any one spot for longer than a minute. Be careful not to over-treat. Repeat on the opposite side. 17

For gluteal muscles, piriformis:Start side-lying on the foam roller. Extend your right leg so that it’s in line with your torso and rotate back to position your right gluteal on the roller. Bend and place your left leg behind your right and place both hands on the floor for support. Proceed to roll the right gluteal region along the roller. Repeat for your left side.

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Stop in the office and take home your roller today! 802-655-0354

Reference:
Foam Roller Techniques, OPTP, 2008, Michael Fredericson, MD, Terri Lyn S. Yamamoto, PhD, Mark Fadil, CMT, p. 15, 17, 23.

The importance of good posture

One of the ways you can alleviate back and neck pain is to develop good posture.  Our spine has three natural curves: a forward or lordotic curve in the lumbar region (low back), a backward or kyphotic curve in the thoracic area (midback) and another forward curve in the cervical area (neck). 

These curves allow for smooth articulation of the joints of the spine , called facet joints. If the facet joints are aligned properly, we will have biomechanically appropriate movement. When we sit with good posture, our weight is distributed through our spine rather than through our muscles and ligaments.  This allows our muscles to stay relaxed and the stress on the ligaments to be minimal.  When the spine moves the way it was meant to, it provides natural support to the discs, ensuring healthy discs throughout life.

When the curves are reduced or exaggerated due to the way we carry ourselves every day, many problems result. Unnecessary stress will be placed on muscles, resulting in chronic back or neck pain.  Pressure placed on the discs that cushion the spine might result in degenerated or herniated discs.  Some of the more typical postural deformities include standing with too much or not enough low back curve, accentuating the thoracic curve, leading to a stooped over posture,  or standing with the head forward from the body, creating strain on the neck muscles.

Standing postural exercise

Stand with your feet under your pelvis, and rock back and forth on your feet.  Find the center of the arch of your foot and place your weight there.  Rock your pelvis back and forth on your legs, and notice how the movements of the pelvis affect the curves of the low back. Find the center of your pelvis and hold it there.  Exhale and drop your ribs slightly, making sure your sternum is perpendicular with the floor.  Bring your shoulders slightly up towards your ears and rotate your arms out, bringing your shoulder blades on your back.  Relax your arms and shoulders.  Bring your ears  in line with your shoulders and relax your neck.

Seated postural exercise

Place both feet directly on the floor under your knees. Rock your pelvis forward and back on your chair, feeling for the “sit bones” of your pelvis.  First, place your weight on your sit bones (the bones you feel at the bottom of your buttocks). Lean slightly forward on the sit bones so that your weight rests on your pelvic floor. Exhale and drop your sternum and ribs slightly, making sure your sternum is perpendicular with the floor. Bring your shoulders slightly up towards your ears and rotate your arms out, bringing your shoulder blades on your back.  Relax your arms and shoulders.  Bring your ears so that they are in line with your shoulders and relax your neck.

While a more correct alignment may feel strange at first, over time it will become more natural, and healthier habits will be developed.  This will result in a healthier, pain free spine for years to come!