Knee Pain: Is It Really A Knee Problem

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Knee Pain: Is It Really A Knee Problem

The first line of defense for most knee pain is injections, medication, or surgery.  All of these options are viable options, but should be a last resort.  This blog will explain how you should really approach knee pain first.

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Traveler's Guide to Fitness and Being Pain Free

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Traveler's Guide to Fitness and Being Pain Free

However, there are some tools you can travel with, which can be packed into any suitcase, which allow you to turn any hotel room into a movement and rehab mecca.  Maybe over stating that a bit, but these 5 things will allow you to workout and perform body maintenance while on the go!

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Does Your Squat Hurt Your Back?

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Does Your Squat Hurt Your Back?

If ANYONE (yes, this includes doctors) has ever told you to stop squatting for good, they are making whatever problem you had worse.  To be fair, maybe you should stop squatting the way you squat, especially if you see one of these 3 major movement faults: butt wink, side shift, or forward fold.

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The Posture Myth

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The Posture Myth

Our brain will always default to the most familiar position when we aren’t consciously thinking about alignment, so in the course of an 8hr day, we need a different approach to offset the over stressed tissues other than saying, "Sit up straight".

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Shoulder Prehab/Rehab Tips

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Shoulder Prehab/Rehab Tips

The reason for this disruption is often not a “shoulder issue”, but a problem of the surrounding structures which the shoulder’s function depends on.  Therefore, when looking for tips to recover from, or prevent shoulder pain/injury, look beyond the shoulder for complete resolution.

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Foundations Of Recovery Post Pregnancy

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Foundations Of Recovery Post Pregnancy

However, until the body is ready for this more advanced work, adopting these drills will set you up for faster recovery and less risk of pain/injury in those important first few months of your baby’s precious life!

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Active Care: Why ChiroStrength Is Different

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Active Care: Why ChiroStrength Is Different

Pain is like an onion; layered with compromised tissues that have failed to withstand the stress of your daily routine.  Treat the pain, and you remove only one layer, but it will come back.  But if we treat the pain, THEN remove each of these layers with a consistent, mindful, movement practice, you won’t be so dang easy to hurt!

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A System For Running Pain Free

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A System For Running Pain Free

Running Pain Free

Tips Beyond The Shoes and Miles

Running seems easy enough, right?  After all, it’s just a slightly faster version of the walking we’ve done since we were toddlers!  So, if you want to be better at running, all you need to do is run a lot and get mentally tough...

dwight.jpg

The reality is, running is very complex and requires the coordination of every muscle group in our body.  Therefore, training all of these systems to work together in an efficient manner is a must in order to reduce the risk of over use injuries.

Here are 5 tips to include in your routine to ensure you can run for longer periods of time without hurting yourself.

1)      Strength Training

This is a HUGE gap in the training for most runners.  You may not think you need to squat and deadlift to run properly, but the body needs lots of strength to maintain proper hip and spinal alignment, especially when fatigue sets in.  The more strength you can develop in the hips, back, and core, the more stable you will be throughout your run.  

*Because running is essentially one set of several thousand reps, it’s a good idea to stay away from higher reps in your strength training.  1 -2 days a week and 5 sets of 5 reps is a good start.

              Suggested Drills: Squats, Deadlifts, Reverse Lunges

2)      Balance

When I’m assessing a runner and I hear, “I have terrible balance”, I make sure they realize that running just one long session of balance. You can easily spend 80% of a run on 1 foot; if you can’t balance on 1 foot for 10 seconds at rest, you are a ticking time bomb for injury.  Not only do you need good balance, but you need strength on one leg.  My favorite drill for improving your hip strength, balance, and coordination is the single leg dead lift.  Here is Video explaining this in detail.

              Other Suggested Drills: Single Leg Dead Lifts, Box Step Ups, Shrimp Squats

 

3)      Core Isometrics

Contrary to popular belief, isometrics like planks are best used as breathing coordination drills. This means you must be able to contract the core while not holding your breath.  Breath holding and shallow breathing will drain your energy while running, and a loose core will put your back and knees at risk.  Therefore, to knock out two birds with one stone, practice these core Isometrics while maintaining good breathing patterns.

In the context of your running routine, perform these drills 2-3 times a week at least.  Doing prior to your run after your stretching is ideal. *Yes, my hair was terrible...

4)      Warm up properly

Simply stretching your calves for 2 minutes is not a sufficient warm up for something as complex as running.  Stretching should be part of the warm up, but you should also warm up the core and pelvic stability muscles.  Here is a good example of a 5 min warm up routine

              2 min of active stretch for the hip flexors (1 min each side)

              30 seconds of active stretch for each calf

              1 min of core/ glute activation with drills like the deadbug and glute bridge (*focus on proper breathing!)

               10 rear elevated split squats each leg. *Move slow and focus on your balance and hip power

5)      Active recovery

“Rest days” should NOT equal “do nothing days”.  On days you don’t run, you need be helping the tissues heal by foam rolling, cold showers, sauna sessions, massage therapy, etc.  You should also be allowing the nervous system to rest by sleeping properly and staying away from cardio as a whole.  These active recovery sessions are great days to practice balance and core coordination drills like chops and lifts and other core drills like shown in this video.

Active recovery is essential to decreasing risk of injury. Aside from tips to accelerate healing (foam rolling, cold/heat exposure, massage, ect), active recovery days are good days to include drills to focus on commonly neglected areas.

As you can see, there is much more to running than "right foot, left foot, right foot" 10,000 times in a row. Saying, "I don't have time for all this extra stuff" is an injury sentence, period.  You will not meet a single top level competitor that has a narrow training regiment, becasue if they did, they would've been hurt long before they were able to achieve success. 

Injury Risk can never be completely eliminated with any sport, but when it comes to running, following these tips will allow you to enjoy a long, successful running career and all the wonderful health benefits that comes with it with a much lower risk of those nagging injuries!

For more information on treatment or online coaching for sustainable exercise and pain relief, visit www.ChiroStrength.com or call the office 931-321-1414 to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Dunaway.

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The Caffeine Debate

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The Caffeine Debate

But one important tip for morning coffee drinkers.  Don’t drink your coffee within one hour of waking.  This is because your body’s natural circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) needs time to adjust.  The hormones being release in this first hour will drastically decrease the caffeine’s effect, and you’ll need more of it.  Instead of reaching for coffee first thing, try these tips:

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The Casts of Convenience

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The Casts of Convenience

The Importance of Being Comfortably Uncomfortable

Technology is Making You Weak And Sick

I don’t know if you’ve ever broken anything and been in a cast, but it’s not a fun time.  It’s itchy, if it’s on your dominant arm you dread everything about bathroom experiences, and the skin begins to spell oddly like a foot even if it’s your arm.  Like mine.  Three separate times....

The crazy thing was I adapted so quickly!  Honestly, removing the cast was one of the more uncomfortable parts because reintroducing the skin and joints to my environment was a struggle.  Thankfully, after a couple of weeks, the body bounced back and now I have a normal right arm after being broken three times.

This is a great analogy for what is happening in our everyday life.  We like to call them conveniences, but they have hindered our natural movement to the point where they have become casts, both for our physiology and physical health.  I could mention many casts hindering our daily life, but let’s look at some of the most common ones.

Electronic Devices

Smart phones have completely changed the gait of many people. When you walk, there should some degree of arm swing and torso rotation, and when this rotation isn’t present, you lose the function of your obliques.  This is detrimental because, along with the lat, these muscles bridge forces being transferred from the hips to the shoulders.  Therefore, when we lose function of them, it destabilizes the entire spine, including the shoulders and hips.  Additionally, your eyes should be on the horizon instead of looking down at your feet.  For every inch your head is pushed forward over your shoulders, it essentially weighs an additional 10bs in respect to the force needed to hold it up by the neck.  And lastly, the hours a day we spend looking at a screen fixes our eyes in one position resulting in myopia (nearsightedness). 

Shoes and flat surfaces

With every other muscle of the body, if we want to improve the function or strength of it, we stress it via movement or exercise.  But in the case of feet, we throw in the towel and say, “Here is this support so you don’t have to do anything.  Good bye forever!”.  Then we wonder why we have tension in our calves, hamstrings and IT band.  True, if you run on pavement for miles and miles, you want some support, but this is similar to a powerlifter using a weight belt during his max lift.  Yet, if said powerlifter always wore that weight belt, he would never strengthen his core due to his reliance on an outside support, or cast.  Getting the feet out of shoes, on some natural surfaces, and waking up the muscles of the feet are more important for the 33 joints in the foot and ankle than the most comfy shoes and inserts.  Or, you know, you could always go for the Jake “The Berminator” Berman route if you want to play it safe.

"Don't you be talkin' about my momma!" 

"Don't you be talkin' about my momma!" 

Temperature Control

Controlling temperature is a pretty complex reality in the body.  Considering thyroid function, cardiac function, and heat shock proteins are just a part of the thermoregulation system of the body, let’s keep this simple.  Keeping your comfort zone between 68 – 72 degrees year around makes you very vulnerable to illness when you get outside that environment.  Your body and mind need the fluctuating temperatures so it can adapt and become resilient with these changes. For a more in depth talk about this check out my other blog on cold thermogenesis.

The body is an amazing adaptive organism.  As I’ve seen with my broken arm, the body can also get really good at doing nothing, being comfortable, and moving poorly.  Unfortunately, no one will be getting a gold medal for sitting anytime soon, so let’s make a commitment right now to change something about our day that gets us a little uncomfortable, and remove these casts from your life one by one. Your body will thank you for it!

For more information on treatment or online coaching for sustainable exercise and pain relief, visit www.ChiroStrength.com or call the office 931-321-1414 to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Dunaway.

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Unleash The Healing Power of the Breath

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Unleash The Healing Power of the Breath

While these are specific drills aimed at gaining control of your breath, simply taking several large inhales through the nose to expand the lungs as much as possible is a good way to wake up in the morning and is analogous to stretching before activity. 

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Understanding Groin Strains

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Understanding Groin Strains

What's the take away here? Simply resting a groin strain until the pain is gone is not an adequate recovery protocol.  Without addressing the important factors described in this blog, you will likely suffer from future ailments, such as hip impingement or hernias, due to the poor hip mechanics adopted by the body during the healing process.

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Deadlifts and Back Pain

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Deadlifts and Back Pain

The fact is, deadlifts can help back pain patients recover faster and become more injury resistant in the process by strengthening a natural human movement pattern.

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Re-Posturing: Relief From Repetitive Stress Pain

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Re-Posturing: Relief From Repetitive Stress Pain

Drills To Desensitize Your Painful Tissues

A Lesson From Boiling Water

Stress to your body can come in many different mechanisms.  It may seem odd, but doing nothing and doing too much can cause similar pain syndromes because each of those scenarios have a common thread; they are performed with a certain posture for a prolonged time with no rest.  Re-posturing is a way of relieving that pain from the repetition of daily life.

For better understanding, let’s compare our perception of pain to a pot of boiling water.  If we take a pot of water and heat it up (stress it) we expect the water to boil at a certain point, it’s just a matter of time.  Once reaching that threshold we can do 2 things to stop the boiling; add cold water or remove it from the heat (stressor). 

Adding cold water without removing the heating source will keep the water from boiling for a period of time, but eventually the water will continue to boil.  The amount and the frequency with which you add water will alter how long the boiling stops.

Removing the heating source will also keep the water from boiling, but the temperature of the water remains high so it takes less time to reach boiling point if the heat is introduced again.

Cold water in this analogy includes any treatment including massage therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic, stretching, etc. All of these options are great and necessary for certain conditions.

The trick comes in removing the heating source (pain mechanism) for long enough to decrease the water temperature (pain threshold) so it’s not as easy to boil the water, or elicit a pain response.   The problem with repetitive stress is it’s often associated with a job description, and quitting your job isn’t a viable option for most.  So enter the concept of Re-Posturing.

Essentially, with one exercise we are trying to take our joints through ranges of motion they would otherwise not be taken through in our normal posture.  This exercise will be performed for 10-30 seconds every 30 min. This “micro break” done repeatedly throughout the day will alter the stresses in the body enough to allow the overloaded tissues to heal and decrease their pain threshold. This desensitizes the tissue so it won’t be so easy to aggravate your painful condition and any therapy performed will have a more long lasting effect on the pain.

Here is an example of Re-Posturing for someone who sits/drives every day: (Video Here For further Description)

Hands: fingers spread apart as far as possible and palms turned towards the ceiling.

Elbows: Tucked to your sides

Shoulders: External rotation with slight extension

Spine: Stand/sit tall, Chin retracted, breath from belly

Hips: Extended or flexed beyond 90 degrees

Knees: End range extension and flexion

This is just one example but is very common.  The more important key is the concept of performing the drill frequently 1-3 times/hr and within your comfort zone while in the stressful posture. 

Keep the reposturing principle in mind when attempting to resolve pain which has not been caused by obvious trauma.  It may be just the tip you need to recover and enjoy a pain free, mobile life!

For more information on Chiropractic treatment, education on Body Maintenance techniques, or coaching for sustainable exercise programs visit www.ChiroStrength.com or call the office 931-321-1414 to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Dunaway.

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