Noticing the terrible habits of others

IMGP3116I have never given the following advice, but here goes! I read a great article about the new posture challenges we face when using all our fancy technology – tablets, smart phones, etc. It’s a practical article with excellent photos of good and bad posture choices. It made me think about how we all want to have good posture, but don’t necessarily know how to get there.

Noticing the terrible habits of others is a clever way to begin. Haven’t we all seen people hunched over their cell phones tapping out a text? It’s so obvious when you’re watching someone else. “Wow! Don’t they realize how bad that must be for their backs?” Or, the other day a client was finishing a call in my reception area before her massage appointment. She had the phone propped between her ear and shoulder – right in front of me! That is sooooo hard on the neck muscles and joints. Yikes!

The problem seems to be that we are mentally engaged with the content of our technology to the point where our bodies and the alarms they may be trying to send us cannot get our attention. Sure, our necks might be sore and stiff at the end of the day, but we don’t necessarily make the connection to our specific actions during the day.

Next time you’re out, notice the terrible habits of others. Without the technology they have in their hands, try to assume the same posture and hold it for a few minutes. Really think about how your body feels in this position. Try taking some deep, slow breaths in this position. Scan your body head-to-toe and notice where you may be feeling discomfort. It can be a fun experiment. I can’t link to the article, but I’m happy to give you a photocopy if you’d like one. Just let me know.

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Arthritis & Chiropractic Care, guest post by Dr. Rion Zimmerman

Arthritis can be confusing to people. When some people hear this word they contemplate a future with twisted and crippled joints; however, “arthritis” is an all-inclusive word that comprises many different conditions from the benign to the severe. Osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD) are the terms for the most common form of arthritis, which is also called, spondylosis, if it occurs in the spine. Basically, the condition is due to the erosion of the cartilage that lines the joint surfaces.

Although some health care professionals will say arthritis cannot be reversed, studies have shown that it can. DJD or osteoarthritis in the spine is caused by unhealthy neurological patterns developed by physical, chemical and/or emotional stress. Chiropractic helps correct those unhealthy neurological patterns with gentle, specific adjustments. As the nervous system develops a healthy neurological pattern, stress is taken off the nerve roots.  As stress is removed from the nervous system, proper motion, function and balance will be restored throughout the body.

Prevention is unquestionably the best option, beginning at an early age. Making sure that

  • all injuries to joints are properly treated,
  • postural imbalances corrected and
  • joint function restored,

will prevent degenerative progression within one’s body. Chiropractic care can combat the effects of arthritis and can help someone avoid utilizing medications that cause harmful systemic effects. Chiropractic will allow one’s body to rest, relax and heal naturally!

If you’d like to learn more or talk to Dr. Zimmerman about your health, he can be reached at 818-952-0172 and on-line. Dr. Zimmerman is a Chiropractor specializing in preventative hands-on care with extensive knowledge related to athletes, pregnant and post-partum women and nutrition. He has been a patient of chiropractic since the age of eight, which continues to give him the drive to provide chiropractic care for individuals of all ages. His office is located in La Cañada, CA.

Field trip! To The Walking Company

the backpack could just as easily be one of those gigantic purses that are fashionable these days

The Walking Company is one of my favorite places to buy shoes because the stores have great shoes and knowledgeable staff. I approached the manager with an idea I’d been mulling over for awhile. The Walking Company has this cool machine that shows the  distribution of weight on your feet in a digital image. I wanted to observe the difference between when I stood normally and when I stood with a heavy backpack on one shoulder. Check it out.

normal stance

In this first image you’ll see that the red shown in the balls of the feet appear more on the right. This is my normal stance. The red indicates the areas of greatest pressure while standing. Bill Vogt, the store manager, was cautious about letting me stand on the sensor pads with a heavy backpack on my shoulder because the machine is so sensitive it can crash and be out of commission for a couple of days (which can equal loss of sales for the store). So I had to use a fairly light backpack. What I expected to see was greater areas of red (pressure) on the side of the added weight. See what you notice in this second image.

With the backpack on Right shoulder

What we see instead is that the body shifted weight to the left to compensate for weight on the right. The body is amazing, organizing itself around the idea of balance and equilibrium.We all know we can not live life completely balanced at all times, but when we have choices to carry loads in a more balanced or less balanced manner, it’s always advisable to choose balance. One specific example comes to mind: carrying a child on the hip. Everyone always says be sure to alternate the side you carry your kid on, or to carry them in front packs, backpacks or slings. I say “yes, all of the above.” Just keep mixing it up or you’ll find imbalances both above and below (shoulders & neck to the north; low back, knees, feet to the south).

Thanks for coming along on my field trip! A big shout out to Bill Vogt and Niya Monrole at the Santa Anita Mall Walking Company store for helping me with this illustration and for some great new shoes.

Are your nerves compromised?

Neck after neck of tight, cranky muscles made me wonder the other day: How do nearby muscles respond to spinal misalignment? Misalignment of the vertebrae is also called subluxation. I decided to find the answer for you and for me by asking our good Dr. Rion Zimmerman, D.C. Dr. Zimmerman runs a thriving family chiropractic practice in La Cañada.

Me: If vertebrae are out of alignment, how do the muscles surrounding or attaching to those vertebrae respond?

Dr. Z: I define a subluxation as an unhealthy neurological pattern or habit that creates a physical, chemical and/or emotional response. The muscles’ response could be considered a physical response and what the muscles do is increase in muscle tone, get tight or hard. This tonal increase is based on a response within the autonomic nervous system known as “fight or flight.”

Me: How do people usually experience or feel spinal misalignment?

Dr. Z: A subluxation occurs in response to stress: physical, chemical or emotional. A basic way to break neurological symptoms down is through the three main types of nerves that create these symptoms. Sensory nerves which would respond with burning or sharp pain; motor nerves which would respond with lack of coordination or weakness; and the autonomic nervous system which would respond with symptoms to the organs all throughout the body, for example digestive or respiratory dysfunction.

Me: I have often heard people wonder if after chiropractic adjustments, tight muscles just pull the vertebrae out of alignment again. Is there a negative loop that needs to be broken here? If so, how is it broken?

Dr. Z: Remember the subluxation is an unhealthy neurological pattern or habit in the body. So it is not the muscle pulling out the vertebrae but the nerve that is not properly activating the muscle. After an adjustment the nerve will fire but with time the old negative pattern will force symptoms to return. Generally there is a recommended treatment plan that involves multiple chiropractic adjustments. These multiple chiropractic adjustments are recommended to help create a new healthier pattern in the nervous system.

Me: How does targeted stretching and exercise play a positive role in our bodies being able to hold alignment properly, naturally, or effortlessly?

Dr. Z: A new healthier pattern is developed in the nervous system through chiropractic adjustments. It is then up to the patient to help maintain this pattern with a customized exercise and nutritional plan.

Me: What differences are there in misalignment of vertebrae in the neck, mid-back and low-back, if any?

Dr. Z: Chiropractic is holistic because of its effect on the nervous system. Each part of the spine houses a different part of the spinal cord which distributes to different muscles, organs and cells. An extreme example of this would be a severe spinal cord injury. If the cervical portion (neck) of the spinal cord is ruptured then everything below it is affected, both arms and legs along with all organs. If the lumbar (lower back) portion is ruptured than both legs and all organs that correlate with those levels are affected.

Dr. Zimmerman is a chiropractor specializing in preventative, hands-on care in La Cañada. He can be reached at 818-952-0172 and http://www.flintridgefamilychiropractic.com

Thanks Doc!

top 3 things to never do

I could easily post a Top 10 list, but let’s start with just 3 things you should never do if you want to be kind to your body.

Numero Uno: Yes, yes, we all like to multi-task. But please consider the assault on your neck/shoulder muscles when you prop the phone between your ear and shoulder. It was bad enough when our phones were bulkier. Now phones are so slim you really have to torque your body to accomplish this time-saving, body-abusing convenience. Just wait to make a call, use an earpiece, use speakerphone or figure something else out. Save those muscles a lot of grief by avoiding this whether it’s while cooking, typing, holding a child or loading a car. Your body with thank you and your massage therapist will thank you!

Numero Dos: “I’ll just do this quick thing on the computer.” And I’ll also strain my neck, back, wrists, scrunch up my forehead trying to see…Oh, wait, look! There’s a chair within feet of where I am. Why don’t I just have a seat! Brilliant idea! We often see this at work, especially with people who service computers. When you’re at someone else’s work station, I think this temptation is pretty strong.  Just sit down – your body will thank you.

Numero Tres: sometimes my son and I get carried away with the wrestling…never underestimate the power of an 8-year-old boy thick with imagination.

Hats off to Lindsay George, professional photographer and retoucher. She is fantastic at what she does and only makes you look like this if you ask nicely. You can reach her at lindziam (at) gmail (dot) com. She took some lovely family photos for us last year.

Aim High…in all things

I can still remember the driver’s ed teacher yelling at me during my parallel parking lesson. I’m not sure what logic led him to believe that yelling at me would somehow assist me in overcoming my quite sufficient anxiety about parallel parking. Perhaps yelling had aided other students in being able to squeeze a car into a parking spot…but not me. To this day, parallel parking is not my favorite. I’d rather walk a block from a nice wide-open spot than stress over getting into a tighter one.

But some advice I learned in driver’s ed still rings in my head in a positive way and has useful applications behind the wheel and outside the car. One of my favorite slogans was “aim high in driving.” If you haven’t heard of this one, it’s encouragement refers to keeping your vision far ahead of your car so you can be aware of what is going on, especially on the freeway. Spotting an accident or even a dangerous driver 1/2 mile ahead can give you time to adjust, change lanes or take other precautions.

Aim High has come to mind recently in relation to other modern activities, like texting. Often I see someone texting with the phone in the lap. Texting is often done on the sly. We may not want to draw a lot of attention to the fact that we are texting. But this often necessitates a severe flexion of the neck.  I have been experimenting with texting up in the air, where my neck can be comfortable. Of course, this isn’t for those times when you probably shouldn’t be texting anyway. But when you can, try texting at a more comfortable angle.

Aim High came to mind on my walk this morning too. How often do we walk, examining the ground as if it held some secret of great magnitude? Experiment with a walk where you look to the end of the block, end of the trail or end of the meadow. You’ll have to look down on occasion to make sure you don’t step into anything unpleasant or miss a tripping hazard. But get your chin up and feel the ease in your neck. Add some arm swinging and really give your spine a treat. The weight of your arms swinging, even gently, can activate some of your deeper back muscles responsible for rotation and vertebral articulation. Movement is great for spine health and what could be easier than swinging one’s arms on an enjoyable walk?

Aim High leads me to daydreaming. I feel new things stirring and hope summer will afford me some time to dream big. Any big dreams on your mind these days?

P.S. The last bit of memorable advice from driver’s ed: Never try to merge onto the freeway while lighting a cigarette and changing the radio station because inevitably a bee will fly in your window at just that moment causing you to lose control of the car and crash. I can safely say I never do this.

Stick ’em up!

We finally got a digital camera…I know, I know…creeping into the current century. But, now I can more easily add little pics with my posts. So here, ladies and gentlemen, is my husband striking a pose I like to call “Stick ’em up!”

My chiropractor, Rion Zimmerman, encouraged me to stick ’em up after every massage I give. 2 minutes in stick ’em up, helps remind your body where your plumbline is. Imagine a plumbline hanging through the center of your body. Most of us carry our heads forward of this centerline and something has to compensate. Tight muscles in the back of the neck and all the way down the spine come to mind.

In stick ’em up put your heels, seat, shoulder blades and head against the wall. Raise your arms just above 90° and take some nice, slow breaths. Stick ’em up is great for breaks from the computer, after cleaning the house, or following a Saturday morning Lego play fest.

Thank you Steve. You can now hand over your wallet.