May is “Correct Your Posture” Month

 

Question: I think I have poor posture and am wondering if there are any changes I can make that would help?

Answer: Poor posture can cause more problems than you may think. When you slouch, you add more stress to your muscles and joints, which in turn can lead to arthritis and degeneration in your joints. It also impairs your breathing, depriving you of oxygen and making you more tired. It impedes circulation and even digestion, not to mention it has a negative effect on our attitudes.

What are the benefits of good posture?

By consciously improving bone, muscle and joint alignment, there is less wear and tear of these tissues over time.  This is very important in terms of the FUNCTION of these bones, muscles and joints!  Practicing good posture can dramatically improve the longevity of your tissues, contributing to a full, pain-free range of motion, decreased back problems, as well as increased endurance in daily activities.

When you practice good posture, muscles work more efficient and require less energy.   This results in LESS fatigue and muscle strain. Poor posture creates changes in muscle length which results in asymmetrical muscle contraction.  For example, if you drive your car leaned over on your console to your right, you have a lengthened LEFT quadratus lumborum and a shortened RIGHT quadratus lumborum.  Multiply this posture x the number of hours spent in your car each day x the number of days in the year x the number of years you have been driving.  You easily see how this imbalance quickly ADDS up!! 

Oxygen should stand alone!!  Many of us inherit habits of shallow breaths and increased respiration over time, often due to the mechanical disadvantage of POOR POSTURE!  The ability to properly breathe is becoming a rare art!  An article by Carol Krucoff, “Better living through belly breathing” ran in The Seattle Times, May 10, 2000, section C3:  Slow, deep breathing is a powerful anti-stress technique. When you bring air down into the lower portion of the lungs, where the oxygen exchange is most efficient, heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, anxiety eases and the mind calms.

Good posture also promotes good circulation which not only prevents you from having tingly appendages, but it also aids in getting those much needed nutrients carried by the circulatory system to every joint, muscle and organ!! 

For each good ingredient that is pumped INTO the tissues via the circulatory system, we must have the by-products of your metabolism and various organ systems pumped OUT via the lymphatic system.  Many of the practices of good posture (ie. frequent, short breaks and good alignment) also promote good lymphatic flow.  This system is involuntary and lacks any muscular components, therefore it depends on the contraction and flow of surrounding tissues to work efficiently.  This dependency creates a strong coorelation between good posture and good lymphatic drainage!

Last, but not least, good posture gives you a more confident, vigorous, youthful appearance!

So what is good posture?

Good posture keeps all parts balanced and supported. Reference points for posture analysis include your ears, chin, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.  When standing, it should be possible to draw a straight line along the side of your body from your ear lobe through the shoulders, hip, knee and into the middle of the ankle.  Looking from behind, your ears, shoulders and hips should be balanced left and right.  Each area of the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and pelvis) adapt according to position (standing, sitting, laying down, etc).  To accomplish good posture, consider this drawing in any position your day demands of you.

Computers are one of the biggest culprits for causing bad posture. If you work at a computer, do the following:

Make sure your chair fits correctly. There should be 2 inches between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees.

Sit with your knees at approximately 90-120 degree angle. Use an angled foot rest to support your feet.

Position your computer monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level.

Keep your wrist in the neutral position while you type. You may need a wrist rest.

Take frequent, short breaks from your computer. Stretch arms, shoulders and neck during this time.

Travel can be stressful with heavy luggage and sitting for long periods. Keep the following suggestions in mind:

Don’t attempt to carry too much. Be careful with wheeled suitcases as you can twist and hurt your back when pulling on them.

Consider using a back support when sitting. If on an airplane, grab the small pillow that is available. Place this behind the small of your low back to provide good support.

Vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps and potential blood clots. Whether in a car or on a plane, move your legs and get up and walk if possible.

Most people watch TV or read for several hours a week. When selecting a living room chair or recliner:

Look for furniture that fits the person who will most often sit in it. One size does NOT fit all.

Find a chair that offers support both to your neck and low back.

Purchase a portable foot rest that can be moved around the room. This will provide added comfort and less stress to your back and neck.

Lastly, sleeping wrong can contribute to poor posture. Consider these tips:

Do not sleep on your stomach. This causes you to twist your neck to breathe, resulting in strain. It also can contribute to low back pain.

If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to relieve pressure on your low back.

When on your side, your neck wants to be in alignment with your spine. That is, do not have your head dropping down toward the mattress or being pushed up towards the ceiling.

If you sleep on your back, you can place a pillow under your knees to relieve low back stress. Your head and neck should remain level with your upper back and spine. You may benefit from an orthopedic neck pillow that provides correct support.

Doctors of chiropractic are experts at analyzing posture and spinal problems. Consult your chiropractor for postural changes specific to you!!

In Loving Service,

Drs. Joey & Taryn Lowery

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“Health” is a verb…

I would like to share with you a post from one the Chiropractic profession’s clearest philosophical minds on what it really means to live a “vitalistic” life.  He interprets the word “Health” in a very in-depth manner.  I hope you enjoy and you are making the best of decisions on your road towards wellness.

Sincerely,

Dr. Joey Lowery

Dr. Kevin Donka’s, “Health” is a verb,

The other day my kids and I were playing an educational game called Noun or Verb? During the game, my son Brennan noticed that some words could be both a noun and a verb like water, step and love. That was when we decided to think of as many noun-verbs as possible. After the kids went to bed, I started thinking about a phone call I had with a chiropractor in New Jersey last week where we had been discussing the definitions of many words, including the word health.

Most people define health mainly as the absence of some form of dis-ease. I have written many Chirothots on why this can not possibly be the case. I have described the fact that darkness is not the presence of something, but it is in reality the absence of light energy. I have also said that coldness is not the presence of something, but the absence of heat energy. Similarly, any manifestation of dis-ease (whether pain, spasm, inflammation, cancer or ANY other “illness”) is not the presence of something; it is simply the particular and specific way that a decrease in the expression of your Life Energy has shown up in your body.

Having now reviewed this idea with you, I would like to take it a step further. In school, you may have learned about the word homeostasis. This describes how our bodies are constantly adapting in order to deal with changes in our environment and keep functioning at a normal level. The word homeostasis can be misleading because of the “stasis” part. Stasis literally means to stay. But the definition talks about how we are constantly changing. The truth is that health is not the absence of something; in fact, it isn’t a physical state at all!

Health is the ability to adapt to most of the stresses you encounter each day and maintain your NATURAL state of EASE.

This discrepancy between the word homeostasis and its commonly accepted definition has led to one of the world’s biggest misconceptions about health; namely that it is actually possible to be either healthy or sick. The truth is that we are continually dealing with changes in our internal and external worlds, and we are never the same from one moment to the next.

The fact that we are changing in every single moment means that it is not possible to be either healthy or sick! The truth is that in every single moment, you are either getting stronger and moving toward health, wellness and wholeness; or you are getting weaker and moving away from them. And, in order to continually get stronger and move in the direction of health and the full expression of Life, you need three things;

1) A Deliberate Focus on moving toward what you want (as opposed to trying to move away from what you don’t want).

2) A Healthy Lifestyle that supplies all of your cells with everything they need to function properly, heal and continue growing.

3) A Clear Neurological CONNECTION between you and your body. Because your nerve system is surrounded by and intimately connected to your spine, it is necessary to keep your spine aligned and functioning properly to allow this clear neurological connection. This is the true purpose behind a program of regular chiropractic care – to keep you fully connected!

There is one more noun-verb that we need to look at in order to tie this all together; the word is LIFE. Most people believe that life is a noun – a thing; but the truth is that all of life is continually changing – Life is a verb! And, since all of life is constantly changing, and because health is a PART OF life, that means that HEALTH is also a verb! Make sure you are taking care of all three things necessary to keep moving toward the full expression of Life, and always be ready to express your Light. That way you’ll always be ready to write, direct and star in your own life story…lights…camera…ACTION!

What is Health?

We often ask this question to our patients, and most commonly the response is, “Not hurting anywhere” or “No symptoms”.  A point needs to be made concerning this question.  A life lead by the absence/presence of symptoms is a life destined to caught off guard.  Think about this, did someone who went to their Doctor and was told they had cancer all of the sudden develop the cancer that morning or the previous day?  Of course not, it took time for their body to lose its ability to fight off the cancerous environment before giving way to the infection.  We don’t just all of the sudden develop a cold, or flu, or even cancer.   Chances are we have had it for a long enough time that our body was overwhelmed due to it not being able to cope with the stressor.  

If you look the definition of HEALTH, you will see it stated as, “A state of physical, mental, and social well-being.”  Let’s take that definition even further.  HEALTH can be looked at as all systems within the body are working at such a high level of function that it will be able to cope with or defend against any foreign invader or stressor it comes up against.  Sadly, typical human nature displays we only care about our HEALTH when symptoms show up.  One can say this is not HEALTHcare, but rather SICKcare.

Think about the various negative influences  on our HEALTH we are dealing with in our country today.  Our sleep quality is terrible for a multitude of causes, our food choices are poor at best, our consistency with exercise is subpar, our workload is overwhelming us, and our medication intake is higher than any other country in the world.  We make up ~5% of the population, and yet use ~56% of the pharmaceutical drugs on the market!  This is insanity because we are doing the same thing over and over and yet expecting a different result. 

A scenario we often see from patients includes: poor sleep, digestion, concentration, possible depression, and a rigid/inflexible body that is screaming for some type of relief from the stressors it deals with on a daily basis.  The sad thing is all they may have come int0 our office for was their neck or lower back was bothering them.  Our bodies in this case can be compared to an onion due to the many “layers”.  The common action many patients resort to before seeing a Chiropractor is medications for their insomnia, antacids for their GERD, their, laxatives for their constipation, and anti-depressants for their depressed state.  HEALTH does not come from a bottle, shot, or any other unnatural outside source.  HEALTH comes from within.  In fact, HEALTH originates from above (your Nervous System) to travel down (your other systems), and from the inside to the outside.  You never have to tell a cut how to heal, or your heart how to beat, or your GI tract how to utilize the food you’ve consumed.   This does not happen by chance, but by a coordinated chain of events which is all regulated by your Nervous System.  It’s the first system to develop while you’re mommy’s womb. It’s the master computer within you that not only allows you to operate, but helps you cope with any and all stressors out there.  This is known as your body’s Innate Intelligence.  An organization of reactions happening at the exact moment they’re supposed to not because of coincidence, but because of necessity to maintain your life!  However, the Nervous System can only take so much stress.  Being that it regulates all other systems, it is the last to become “sick”.  This is observed in a variety of stress related complications. 

The human race is more sick, more diseased, and further away from HEALTH than it ever has been.  Our bodies are slowly losing the ability to cope with all the physical, emotional, and chemical stresses that bombard us day in and day out.  Statistics show as high as 70% of office visits to the family physician were due to poor lifestyle choices.  Would this have been such a high number if we took responsibility for our own HEALTH?  Would this be such a high number if we made HEALTH our number one priority?  I’m an optimist, so I’d like to think not.  I’d like to think any person reading this that is tired of feeling their HEALTH is headed in the wrong direction will set their personal HEALTH improvements at the top of their 2011 New Year’s resolution list. 

It is time to make choices that improve your HEALTH.  It is time to look at your HEALTH as in invaluable asset that you will not and cannot compromise.  It is time to set you and your family up to be the HEALTHiest you’ve ever been this upcoming year of 2011.  HEALTH has been regarded as a journey, not a distination.  You can begin your personal journey by first recognizing you will have only one spine in your life, which is housed by the only Nervous System you’ll ever have.  If you take care of this one spine, not only will your functional quality of life greatly improve, but your overall HEALTH will improve as well.  In fact, patients under regular Chiropractic care not only felt they had functional improvement over the ailments they first received treatment for, but also stated they had an overall better outlook on life.    

Chiropractic care is a whole body, natural approach to achieving optimal HEALTH by searching for and removing the restrictions (joints that lack proper motion) in your spine so the connection between your Nervous System and body can be re-established.  Give your spine and HEALTH a chance.  Don’t wait for a symptom to show itself.  Have your spine checked today so you can the healthiest 2011 possible.

“If you would seek health, look first to the spine.”  Hippocrates.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you gained a motivation like you’ve never had to make your personal HEALTH the highest of responsibilities. 

Yours in Health,

Joey Lowery, DC, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT

Genetics Load the Gun, Lifestyle Pulls the Trigger

One of our professors at Parker College of Chiropractic always said, genetics load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.  As you can tell this little saying stuck with me, but as each day passes, I realize how much truth there is to this catchy phrase.  You might first be thinking, why does a chiropractor care about my genetics and my lifestyle…..I assure you I will get to that!  But secondly, you are probably wondering why this montra that so many people condemn their future health aspirations by is being challenged.  You have heard it a million times, “well, my dad had it and his dad had it so I guess I better start getting used to the idea of __________ (fill in the blank) because it’s bound to happen to me sooner or later.” 

So first, doom and gloom thinking will lead to doom and gloom realities!!  Like an unknown author said, “what you love you empower, and what you fear you empower – and what you empower, you attract.”  Don’t attract things into your life that you don’t want in your life.  Focus on the good!!  BE A POSITIVE PONDERER! 

Then, look to the science.  Dr. Mercola recently commented on a WebMD study on diet and how it relates to genetic malleability in 276 male twins, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/08/your-diet-could-be-more-important-than-your-genes.aspx.  Here is a small excerpt:

“Epigenetic “malleability” helps to explain why identical twins become distinct as they age, health-wise, and it explains how you can actually tweak your genes for better or worse, too.  In fact, you ARE changing your genetics daily and perhaps even hourly from the foods you eat, the air you breathe, and even by the thoughts you think.  You are the “caretaker” of your genetic roadmap.  As you age, your genome does not change but your epigenome changes dramatically, especially during critical periods of life, such as adolescence. It is influenced by physical and emotional stresses — how you respond to everything that happens in your environment, from climate change to childhood abuse.”

There is probably just as much science that says we can “change our genetics daily” as there are saying we have no control over strong hereditary influence.  So back to my “first.”  What do you CHOOSE to believe?  Do you choose to believe that your daily choices affect the future of your health and vitality or are you black-balled with no other choice?  The power of choice lends to empowerment!  Think about it…when you are TOLD what to do, do you want to do it?  Do you get excited about doing it?  Your dad tells you to mow the yard, your boss bumps up your deadline without any notice, your mother-in-law tells you how to dress your kid.  I know you can relate…and the answer is NO!  When your choices are taken away you feel cornered and threatened.  You become defensive and cold.  These negative feelings are not condusive to healing, much less the chance of overcoming any predisposed obstacles.  Again, choose to believe that you do have control and as a result, empower yourself and give your health a little hope!

Finally, how does chiropractic relate to all of this talk about genetics and choices?  The chiropractic lifestyle is just that, a lifestyle of choices.  Chiropractors get a cross look from time to time because we do things a little different than most.  We believe that health comes from within.  We believe that the Power that made the body can heal the body.  The idea of choices comes to the forefront when this Inside-Out philosophy collides with the modern, fast-paced, Outside-In conveniences.  We try to do “things” in our daily life that KEEP us healthy (without Dis-ease nor Disease).  Most American thought is to go, go, go until you can’t go anymore, due to Dis-ease or Disease, and THEN fix the damage. 

Think about your teeth for a minute.  Most of us are in a habit of brushing our teeth 2 – 3 times every day.  It has become a social no-no to have bad breath and dingy teeth.  We also visit the dentist every 6 months to have our teeth checked, making sure there is nothing that needs attention.  In doing this, we have revolutionized oral care.  This is similar to what chiropractors try to accomplish through chiropractic care.  We evaluate your spine, medical history, current complaints, posture, work habits, stress exposure, nutrition, environmental toxins, etc.  We look at ALL of these things to help you attack all areas of your life in an effort to stop chasing the day where you feel good.  We want you to feel GREAT everyday!  We want your body to be as efficient as the finest machinery, even better!  We were created as superior creatures.  We have an innate intelligence that knows how many pumps of the heart and how many expansions of the lungs we need each day.  Embrace that intelligence.  Feed that intelligence!  Give your body the tools that it needs to thrive.  Don’t throw trash in your temple.  Don’t subject your temple to chronic pain and injury.  These are the choices that pull the trigger.  Invest in your health and do a little EVERYDAY for YOU!  This is a CHOICE.  Chiropractic care can help you become familiar with specific gifts you can give your body to reconnect with your health!!  Please get your spine checked!!

Thoughts, Traumas & Toxins – The SUBLUXATION Conundrum

I ran across an interesting website via a post on facebook.  http://www.drbenkim.com/ I have since subscribed to Dr. Ben Kim’s “Experience Your Best Health” Newsletter and I’m excited about what information I may run across in the future.  Anyhow, he posted an interesting article on the impact emotional stress has on our lives.  I found it all the more interesting because, in chiropractic, the basis of philosophy revolves around the concept that thoughts, traumas and toxins are the cause of subluxation (an interference in the natural flow of your God-given communication highway…otherwise known as your nervous system).  There is a lot to be said about this philosophy.  Enjoy an excerpt from Dr. Ben Kim’s Natural Health website:

“What is the most powerful step you can take to dramatically improve your health? My answer is this: Learn how to effectively manage emotional stress!

All of my clinical and personal experiences over the years have me convinced that no other factor has more influence over your health. Not diet, not exercise, not even how much you sleep.”  http://drbenkim.com/reduce-stress.html

In Dr. Ben Kim’s article on emotional stress and the effects it has on the sympathetic nervous system, he offers ways to MANAGE stress!  I think this is a great article with some very simple, generic practices that we can all impliment.  I always emphasize the effects of “Thoughts, Traumas and Toxins” to our patients.  The 3-Ts cause subluxation…which is where the adjustment comes in!  The elimination or at least minimization of the 3-Ts is where consistent chiropractic CARE comes in. 

I usually describe my OPINION of the particularly strong influence of Thoughts as a pie graph.  About 6% of subluxation comes from traumas, another 6% from toxins and 88% of the subluxation complex is influenced by THOUGHTS!  Again, this is my opinion that I have developed from my personal experience and case studies with my patients.  Of course the percentages are argueable, but that is not the point.  The point is, emotional stress plays a huge roll in our lives!  We have to learn to manage it by doing things such as suggested by Dr. Ben Kim.  The only thing that I would add is each person processes stress differently and therefore must manage it differently.  Finding a “happy place” on a regular basis in your OWN way is a therapy comparable to no other!  Make a list of things that put a smile on your face.  Try to make that list as long as possible!  If you need help, look through a photo album from a family trip, wedding, reunion, vacation, graduation or birth.  Look at this list often.  Impliment these things in your life often!  If time only allows you to visualize them, visualize away!  PLAN!  Plan time in every day for YOU!  Many financial advisors say, “pay yourself first.”  I say, PUT yourself first.  There are many people in our lives that are important, but without your personal peace there is no possible way to give to those that you love.  You may be surprised how putting yourself first will positively affect your relationship with others and more importantly, your outlook on your health and life!

I challenge you to learn more about the effects of emotional stress, not to dwell on the effects, but to create a compulsion within you to GET RID OF IT!!  I believe we are designed to thrive!  Thrive physically and mentally!  There is a lot of potential within you – find it!  Push the limits of your potential by giving energy and time to YOU!  By all means, get adjusted!!  Eat whole foods, exercise daily, get regular massage therapy…just be GOOD to yourself!  Harmony and peace will follow!