Dr. Glenn Molin’s Tips for Increased Vitality and Wellness
We all should understand that the maintenance of good heath is far superior to trying to regain your health once it is lost. Simply changing a few bad health habits for positive ones can go a long way to staying healthy and vibrant for life.
Did you know that drinking too much soda or other carbonated beverages could interfere with calcium absorption – a problem that could eventually lead to osteoporosis? Or that slouching at a desk all day or tapping away at a computer keyboard can lead to painful strains in your wrists, shoulders, elbows and back?
These are just a few of the bad habits that can lead to musculoskeletal problems-conditions that have an enormous impact not only your health, but also on society as a whole. In the United States alone, musculoskeletal conditions cost society an estimated $254 billion every year and one out of every seven Americans reports a musculoskeletal impairment.
Doctors of Chiropractic, in particular, have long emphasized the importance of spinal health, posture and other lifestyle factors in the body’s ability to function optimally. Poor spinal health, for instance, can cause a negative chain reaction throughout the body. It can cause stress on joints, which, especially if the muscles are weak, can cause wear and permanent damage. Rockville Chiropractor Dr. Glenn Molin offers the following advice to help improve and maintain your musculoskeletal health.
At the Office
- Make sure your chair fits correctly. There should be 2 inches between the front edge of the seat and the back of your legs. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, with your knees at a 90-degree angle. If you can’t sit that way, use an angled or elevated footrest.
- Take periodic stretch breaks. Clench your hands in a fist and move your hands like this: 10 circles in, then 10 circles out. Put your hands in a praying position and squeeze together for 10 seconds and then “pray” with the backs of your hands together, fingers pointed downward for 10 seconds. Spread your fingers apart and then bring them together one by one.
- Hold the telephone with your hand or use the speakerphone. Don’t cradle the phone between your ear and shoulder. This can lock up the spinal joints in the neck and upper back, and eventually cause pain.
- Take breaks and alternate tasks that use different muscle groups.
- Arrange your desk so that everything is handy – phone, mouse, reference materials, reports – to minimize awkward stretching and reaching.
- Position your computer monitor so that the middle of your chin is aligned with the middle of your monitor. This will allow for good neck posture.
- When you wash the dishes, open the cabinet beneath the sink, bend one knee, and put your foot on the shelf under the sink. Lean against the counter so some of your weight is supported in front.
- When resting or watching TV, don’t use the sofa arm as a pillow. The angle is much too sharp for the neck.
- Don’t bend from the waist when you lift a child. Squat with your back straight. Keep the child close to you and use your legs and arms to lift.
In the Yard
- If you shovel snow, push the snow straight ahead. Don’t try to throw it and walk it to the snowbank. Avoid twisting and turning motions. Bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let your legs and arms do the work, not your back. Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles. Try to stand as erect as possible.
- When raking leaves, use a scissors stance: right foot forward and left foot back for a few minutes; then reverse, putting your left foot forward and your right foot back. Bend at the knees, not the waist, as you pick up leaves. Make piles small to decrease the possibility of back strain.
- For mowing, use your weight to push the mower. Whenever possible, use ergonomically correct tools for the job.
- Warm up slowly before a game. Do calisthenics, flexibility exercises, or light running to increase your heart rate.
- When sweat beads form, your body is at the proper temperature to stretch the tendons and muscles.
- When driving, adjust your car seat so you can sit firmly against the seat back without having to lean forward or stretch. Buckle your seatbelt and shoulder harness, and adjust the headrest so that it supports the center of the back of the head.
- Invest in a wheeled suitcase that has a sturdy handle.
- Don’t always carry the weight on one side – take frequent breaks and transfer the weight to the other side.
- Don’t try to carry too much. Even wheeled suitcases can cause problems to the neck, shoulders and lower back when pulled from behind.
- When traveling by air, check all bags heavier than 10 percent of your body weight. Overhead lifting of any significant amount of weight should be avoided to reduce the risk of pain in the lower back or neck. While lifting your bags, stand directly in front of the overhead compartment so the spine is not rotated. Do not lift your bags over your head, or turn or twist your head and neck in the process.
- While seated in an airplane, vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down. Prop your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat.
- Have a smaller table for them where they can do their homework, rather than force them to use a standard table and chair. If the child’s feet don’t touch the floor, place a footrest or box under the feet. Position the computer monitor so the top of the screen is at or below the child’s eye level.
- Make sure the straps of your child’s backpack are padded and worn over both shoulders, not just one. Also, the contents of the backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight.
- If your child is involved in sports, make sure all equipment, including helmets, pads and shoes, fits your child properly. If your teenage child is involved in soccer, make sure they are taught how to “head” the ball properly. A young child should not use the heading technique at all, according to ACA experts.
- Make sure your child has enough calcium included in his or her diet. ACA recommends 1 percent or skim milk for children over 2 years old, and whole milk for those younger than 2. The calcium in milk is essential for healthy bones and reduces the risk of joint and muscle-related injuries
- Make sure your child avoids sugar-loaded, caffeinated and carbonated drinks. Rather, encourage them to drink plenty of water. Caffeine can dehydrate your youngster, and the high levels of phosphorous in sodas and other carbonated beverages can interfere with calcium absorption – a problem that could lead to osteoporosis down the road.
While Dr. Glenn Molin and the entire Vitality Chiropractic team encourages you to follow these tips for better musculoskeletal health, remember that good spinal health is but one component in a healthy lifestyle. Exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, drinking plenty of water and eating a nutritious diet contribute not only to health but also to the ability to heal after an injury.
Don’t Let Housework Be a Pain
Household chores can be a pain in the sacroiliac joints. Unless you’re careful, routine activities around the home— washing dishes, vacuuming, even talking on the phone— can strain your back causing pain and sciatica, including the sacroiliac joint area near the tailbone, and result in debilitating discomfort.
You can protect your back by knowing the right way to go about such activities. We often work with patients at Vitality Chiropractic in Rockville, MD about how to protect the spine and its musculature when performing activities of daily living.
Consider lifting; it doesn’t matter whether you’re picking up your child or a heavy bucket of water, you need to do it the proper way to avoid injury.
How? Bend from the knees, not the waist. As you lift, hold the item as close to your body as possible. If you have to turn to place it, step in the direction of the turn. That way, you’re not twisting your body and straining your spine.
Dr. Glenn Molin and Dr. Diego Proano at Vitality Chiropractic & Medical Wellness in Rockville , MD suggest the following do’s and don’ts for chores and relaxation:
- When you wash dishes, open the cabinet beneath the sink, bend one knee and put your foot on the shelf under the sink. Lean against the counter so some of your weight is supported in front.
- When ironing, raise one foot a bit. Place it on a small stool or a book to take some strain off your back.
- To vacuum, use a “fencer’s stance.” Put all your weight on one foot, then step forward and back with the other foot as you push the vacuum forward and back. Use the back foot as a pivot when you turn.
- While talking on the phone, don’t cradle the phone between your ear and shoulder. That can lock up the spinal joints in the neck and upper back, and cause pain. Instead, hold the phone with your hand or use the speakerphone.
- While watching television or relaxing, don’t use the sofa arm as a pillow. The angle is much too sharp for your neck.
- Use a cold pack if your back begins to hurt. Wrap an ice pack in a towel moistened with warm water. The warmth gives way to gradual cold, which likely will alleviate the discomfort. (No ice? Try frozen veggies instead.)
- If pain persists for more than a day or two or if you experience numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms or legs, see a doctor of chiropractic. A doctor of chiropractic is an expert in spinal health and can help identify and treat your problem.
What is Healthy Posture?
By now, most agree that proper posture is paramount to a healthy body. So how does one determine if they have proper posture?
- Stand up against a wall
- Make sure your upper back, shoulders and bottom touch the wall
- Your feet don’t have to be against the wall — just a couple of inches away from it
- You should have a slight space in your lower back and be able to fit your hands in that space; make sure it’s not a big gap (hyperlordosis)
- Then, step away from the wall, and try to see if you can maintain that position. Keep in mind, strengthening your muscles will make it easier for you to maintain that posture overtime.
It is a good idea to consult with professionals with experience in strengthening proper posture. Your chiropractor should be able to some recommendations. Be careful of overdoing it or hyper-extending your back when exercising.
Maintaining good posture can help you walk, sit, stand and lie in positions that cause the least pressure on your muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing actions. Also, maintaining proper posture will help you remain vital and healthy as you age.
Your Chiropractor’s education is indeed rigorous
Chiropractors go through an immense amount of education prior to receiving a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree. A chiropractor’s education begins by earning a 4 year college bachelor’s degree with coursework including:
- Biology (General Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Human Biology)
- General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry
- In addition to core college requirements
Upon acceptance to a graduate program at one of the 18 national chiropractic colleges, chiropractic students take a total of 3,390 hours of didactic classroom work and at least an additional 1,305 hours in a clinical residency setting for a total of 4,695 hours of advanced education.
Summary of Course Hours for a Doctor of Chiropractic at New York Chiropractic College
- Anatomy – 585 hours
- Biochemistry – 75 hours
- Physiopathology – 330 hours
- Microbiology and Public Health – 135 hours
- Diagnosis – 540 hours
- Diagnostic Imaging – 270 hours
- Clinical Laboratory – 75 hours
- Associated Studies – 150 hours
- Chiropractic Philosophy – 195 hours
- Chiropractic Technique – 615 hours
- Ancillary Therapeutic Procedures – 90 hours
- Clinical Practice Issues – 195 hours
- Clinical Experience and Outpatient Services – 1,305 hours
- Elective Courses – 135 hours
Total – 4,695 hours
Then, before a doctor of chiropractic can begin practicing, he or she must successfully pass both written and oral national boards (parts I – IV & PT) and individual State boards.
A Chiropractor’s educational requirements are rigorous and his or her education doesn’t stop after graduation. Almost all State Chiropractic Boards require advanced continuing education throughout the doctor’s career. In Maryland, the Maryland Board of Chiropractic mandates a minimum of 48 hours of approved classwork in addition to provider level CPR training every two years.
Chiropractic is the largest natural healing profession in the world. It has grown over its history because it is safe, it works and its providers, 60,000+ chiropractors nationally, are well educated in the art, science and philosophy of chiropractic.
Children and Headaches – It’s Just Not Okay.
I read a statistic recently that about 10% of school-aged children and 15-27% of teens experience headaches on a regular basis. That is not okay. Nobody should suffer from headaches and especially not children.
Below are a few things to consider to help prevent headaches for adults and children alike.
- Proper hydration – Make sure to properly hydrate. This is especially true when the weather is still warm and there are a lot of outdoor activities. Encourage your child to drink more fresh filtered water and make it easier for him or her to do so by providing a filled water bottle
- Diet – Eating regularly will go a long way in feeling and functioning at your best. Skipping meals can cause a drop in blood sugar leading to fatigue and headaches. It is very important to make sure your child is eating regular meals consisting of fresh fruit, vegetables, and good lean proteins
- Sleep – Getting proper sleep is vitally important for a growing body. Typically, middle and high school students need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a night to encourage healing, growth and feelings of being well-rested. Not getting enough high quality sleep can be a cause of headaches
- Stress – Increased stress, or rather, a body’s response to stress can be a major cause of headaches. If your child is experiencing a lot of day-to-day stress, including “text neck” and computer device stress; try to schedule some down time to allow for a bit of “decompression”
- Vision Problems – If your child is complaining of frequent headaches, it is probably a good idea to get a vision check. Also, moving to the front of the class may be a good idea to avoid eye strain
The majority of headaches in children are not a cause for alarm. There are, however, some instances which may require a little more exploration. If your child’s headaches have become more frequent or severe, if he or she wakes up in the morning or the middle of the night from pain, or if the headache causes vomiting, it’s best to have your child evaluated by your doctor.
Fortunately, most headaches are caused by muscular contractions in the cervical spine (neck) and head and relatively easy to correct. This problem can be brought on by any of the causative agents listed above or by head and neck trauma, accidents, playing sports, or a multitude of other “normal” daily life events. This can include “text neck” and computer device stress. We see a lot of this at Vitality Chiropractic and also around town in Rockville. Even carrying a heavy book bag can cause muscle tightness and imbalance that can lead to a headache.
Increasingly, people are turning to safe and effective Chiropractic treatments to help correct the cause of headaches. Doctors of Chiropractic specialize in correcting spinal structure and posture to relieve stress on the nervous system, muscles, and ligaments. Once proper structural posture is restored and some reasonable lifestyle modifications are addressed, your child can move along functioning normally and pain free.
Too Much Sitting Just Isn’t Good for You
Excessive sitting and other low energy activities that involve sitting have been found to be associated with neck pain, back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS), and increased risk of anxiety and depression. Activities including watching TV, working at a computer, driving, and playing electronic games, are typical sedentary behaviors.
Many studies have shown that sedentary behavior is associated with physical health problems like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteopenia and osteoporosis. Higher incidence of neck pain, back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS), and other spinal pain and body pain has also been found to correlate with excessively sedentary lifestyles. Additionally, recent research found links relating sedentary behavior and poor mental health.
Office workers, who tend to sit for extended periods throughout the day, tend to experience:
- 33% more headaches
- 30% more back pain
- 20% more muscle pain
- 17% more neck pain
- 9% more Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
- 9% more upper back pain
than those with more active jobs or lifestyles.
One thing that can help if you must sit for extended period is proper ergonomics. Adapting your equipment and surroundings to support healthy posture will help to mitigate the negative effects of excessive sitting. The key is to keep your body in a neutral position. The graphic below represents ideal ergonomics and body posture in the seated position.
Unfortunately, prolonged sitting may just be a fact of life for you. If that is the case, try paying attention to some of these things.
- Sit up against the back of the chair
- Have 1”-2” between the end of the chair and your knees
- Use a lower back cushion if your chair does not support you well
- Move close enough to the desk so you don’t lean forward
- Get checked by your chiropractor for possible spinal subluxation and posture problems
Remember, keeping your spine and nervous system mobile, stable, and level is the very best thing you can do to ensure the best chance at a long, healthy and vibrant life!
Back Pain, Neck Pain and Bad Posture
As a chiropractor practicing within the hustle and bustle of Rockville, Maryland, I certainly see a fair share of people with stress related low back pain, neck pain and headaches. Sometimes, stress is beyond our immediate control, however, oftentimes, we can take simple steps to reduce stress and help ease the low back pain, neck pain, headaches and other associated aches and pains. Check out the infographic about the causes of poor posture below and challenge yourself to take some positive steps to reduce stress on your spine and nervous system.
Your body will thank you for the effort!!!