How Much do Your Activities Cause Your Pain?

Uh oh, it’s happened again. You can feel the initial “twinge.” That is, you can feel the early warning sign that you low back pain problem is about to come back again. You knew you should have been keeping up with your chiropractic visits and the exercises your doctor gave you, but you just haven’t done it.

You feel great most of the time, but you’ve learned that when you get this feeling, things are about to go downhill…fast. Sometimes you get off easy, just a few over-the-counter remedies and you can get back to work. Sometimes you’re going to be spending the weekend putting ice on your back and waiting for the doctor to open up first thing Monday morning.

Worse case is that you’ll spend the next couple of weeks trying to get yourself back to feeling not just pain-free, but to the point where you don’t feel like things are about to go bad at any point. That’s the worse feeling.

So it’s somewhere in one of these episodes that you begin to ask yourself, “Why does this keep happening? Is it something I’m doing or not doing?” Most of the time, the answer is “yes!” Now, our bodies are not made out of concrete, and no one can make sure that your back pain will never, ever return again. However, there’s plenty that you can do to keep the episodes at bay and keep from feeling bad more often than not.

Let’s not even get into some of the preventative measures like regular chiropractic care. Let’s just realize that your daily activities are usually what is contributing to your problem. If you sit all day on the computer, then get in your car and sit, and then go home and sit, and then go to sleep and do the whole thing all over again… you’re going to have problems.

Some people will do some exercises, but that seems to be primarily made up of sit-ups, walking, and riding their bike. None of these activities will strengthen the spine to any noticeable degree. Certainly nothing that is going to keep that “feeling” from coming back again. Your normal daily activities have a focus on actions that occur in front of you with almost no engaging of the back muscles for anything other than keeping you upright.

If you’re going to keep a back problem away, you’re going to need to strengthen your back. Taking some time out to follow your doctor’s recommendations and perform some regular activity for the sake of your spine will go a long way in keeping things together. Keep the weight down, the stress away, some regular general exercise, and some regular exercise focused on strengthening your spine and you should do okay.

Take Charge of Your Health

Most health problems can be avoided. Many of the problems we deal with every day didn’t have to be there at all, if we were willing to take a good hard look at ourselves and decide to be healthy.

The first question is, do you think your body wants to be healthy or do you think you have to medicate it into being “healthy?” An easy example is if you get a cut on your skin. You know that the bandage doesn’t heal the cut, your body does. It just knows that it needs to heal that area and it gets to work. If you are a healthy person, the cut will likely heal much faster than if you are unhealthy.

I see this in my practice every day. I’m a chiropractor and we work with aligning the spine to improve the patient’s health. In order for the spine to stay in its proper position, the muscles will need to work with us. The health of the muscles will determine how fast the patient gets results.

Too many people are in pain, come in and get treatment, just to find that the results take much longer than they thought they would. Then I see patients in moderately good health that bounce back much faster than expected. The patient that consistently makes more healthy choices will get better faster than the patient that doesn’t. Period.

So how do you avoid most health problems and stay healthy? There’s not a lot of mystery to it, believe me. I’ve tried, probably just like you, to find any other new possible way to get healthy other than what has been tried and true.

1. Eat right – What does this mean? Fruits and vegetables, you know, all the stuff you don’t want to eat. If you look at your health as just the results of what you’ve been doing so far, this will help in your motivation. Eliminating one bad food at a time and replacing it with something healthy will go a long way. Maybe no more sodas, instead you’ll be drinking water. Replacing green tea for coffee, or reducing your sugar intake.

Continue to make these better choices and eventually you’ll see a big difference in how you feel. Many conditions are the result of long term diet issues. If you eat poorly, you don’t give your body any materials to maintain your health.

2. Exercise – Don’t start your new exercise program by opening up your front door and running 10 miles. Find some ways to build momentum in your exercise program. Take a walk, go play catch with your child (or even your dog), or get a bike and start doing laps around your block. Find a way to get started and go from there.

Exercise will improve the tone of your muscles, make you stronger, and most importantly, will help you deal with stress. Stress is a huge factor in your health.

It all sounds to easy, right? It’s not easy. Staying consistent with these elements of your goal to get healthy will yield plenty of benefits, just figure out your best way of sticking with it. I’ve found that adding in (or taking out) one thing at a time will make all the difference. You won’t lose fifty pounds in six weeks, but whatever you do lose will stay gone. Over the long-term, that’s what will make all the difference in your health. Take charge of your health!

Can You be Your Own Chiropractor?

At least once a month I get a question from a patient asking some version of “Why can’t I just adjust myself?” And more often, I have patients that regularly do adjust themselves, particular grabbing their own head or neck and performing a maneuver that gives them a bunch of “cracks” and makes them feel like they’ve done something good.

There are probably more reasons than what I’ll list here, but the answer is “no” you can’t be your own chiropractor. You can be your own mechanic (to a point), you can be your own handyman (to a point), you might even be your own doctor at times, but you leave the more specific and more complicated tasks to the experts.

Getting a spinal adjustment is one of those complicated things that doesn’t seem so complicated on the surface. What is it that the chiropractor is really doing? Why do I need to have a chiropractic adjustment, what’s wrong with just twisting my own neck?

I think you’ll agree that if you are trying to move your spine, you have determined that it is either not moving or it has moved out of place, right? If it can go the wrong direction and cause pain and discomfort, then it makes sense that if you move it further out of place you can make it worse. So… how do you know which way to move your vertebrae? The move that I see being performed is a “move everything and hope I get the right one at some point.”

Each vertebrae can move up to sixteen different directions. Do you know which way your vertebra has gone? That’s where the chiropractor comes in. They are trained to determined which way the bone has moved and how to move it back into the correct place. Some of the directions are extremely difficult to accomplish on your own. Chiropractors don’t adjust themselves either!

The same principle that applies to adjusting yourself also goes for having someone “bear hug” you at a family gathering and having your kids walk on your back. It’s just not specific and the person performing the “therapy” has no way of knowing which part of your spine needs to be adjusted.

The next question is “If I can’t adjust myself, why does it feel better when I do it?”

You’ll notice that when you do it, the good feeling doesn’t last long. That’s why you keep doing it over and over again during the day. You still get the endorphin release, so you’ll temporarily get a influx of pain relief that makes you think you’ve done something good for yourself. However, you’ve more likely either moved something the wrong way or moved a different bone than the one that needs it. The pain and discomfort returns once the endorphins are gone and you’re back to where you started.

In summary, you cannot be your own chiropractor. I know it can seem like a simple thing, but chiropractors are the experts at finding the right area of your spine to be adjusted and then moving it back the right way. See the experts!