Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The One Exercise NO ONE Should Do

You may be asking yourself, "Why should someone not do an exercise?  Exercise is good for you."  Well, you're right, but not all exercises are good for you, especially when looking from a chiropractic perspective.

This exercise is a classic that has been done in Phy Ed class since middle school, the Presidential Physical Fitness competition, and Military training to this day.  So, what exercise is it?

Sit-Ups.

So, why is a sit-up so bad that no one should do sit-ups?  There's a couple reasons.  First of all, it's bad for your back.  Once you get past the crunch stage of the sit up, all you're doing is putting unneeded stress on your body.  Your lumbar spine already has enough stress on it from holding the majority of your body's weight and from all the sitting that we do these days.  When you do a sit up, you are creating an unneeded amount of pressure on the discs in the lumbar spine and strain on the overworked muscles that surround the spine.

Another reason no one should do a full sit-up is the strain it puts on a muscle called the psoas muscle.  The psoas is a muscle that helps your abdominal muscles when they are weakened by bending your body at the waist or by raising your legs up.  In most people, the psoas muscle is already overworked and tightened due to weakened abdominal muscles.  By doing a sit up, you are strengthening and tightening an already tightened muscle.

Finally, the last point I want to make is regarding hand position.  And this doesn't just pertain to sit-ups, but also crunches.  DO NOT place your hands behind your head.  Whether you feel it or not, you will more than likely be pulling your head forward and straining the back of your neck.  When doing a crunch (not a sit-up!), cross your arms over your chest.

So, what should you do instead of a sit-up?

Crunches.  Crunches and sit-ups are very similar.  A crunch is basically half of a sit up.  What you want to do is pay close attention to your abs contracting.  When you feel like they can't tighten any further or if it feels like a natural place to stop, that's where you stop.  Sitting all of the way up is unnecessary and detrimental to your spine.

Do These (crunches):                                                                 NOT these (sit-ups):

Friday, March 9, 2012

Daylight Savings

Don't forget to set your clocks 1 hour ahead (ie: if it's 10pm, set them to 11pm) on Saturday night as Daylight Savings begins this Sunday.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Back Pain and your Ribs

Time to talk about ribs.

Some of the most "Huh, that's interesting" or "Really?" moments I get as a chiropractor have to do with those 24, long, thin bones that wrap around your chest.  When I tell people that part of the reason that they may be experiencing back pain is because of a rib being out of place, they usually have one of the reactions above.

First of all, let's talk about what the ribs do.  These 24 bones connect to your thoracic spine (mid and upper back) and wrap around your chest and either directly connect to the sternum (breastbone), indirectly connect to the sternum via cartilage, or wrap about halfway around the chest (floating ribs).  The main function of these ribs is to protect vital internal organs such as the lungs, heart, stomach, kidneys, liver. etc.  Usually, ribs don't cause any issues.  However, when they do, it can be a big deal.

Typically, when someone has a rib that's moved out of place, it presents as one sided pain in the mid and/or upper back that travels under the shoulder blade.  Some people can get pain on both sides, pain along the side of the chest, chest pain on the front, and even pain that may feel like the beginning of a heart attack.  Often times, it's a very painful ordeal because of all of the muscles attached to the ribs (actually the most pain I've been in was when I had some ribs out from changing our readerboard at work).  In fact, between each pair of ribs, there are three muscles connecting the ribs that run in different directions.  So, you can imagine that if a rib is being pulled back or pushed forward, it's going to place a lot of strain on those tiny muscles and the other muscles attached to the ribs.

The good news?  Ribs that are out of alignment are fairly easily fixed by a chiropractic adjustment.  Sometimes the ribs slide right back in place, sometimes it takes a little"coaxing".  Most of the time, people get sore after having their ribs put back in place because of the strain on the muscles, but a little ice can work wonders with that.

So, if you're experiencing pain in your upper / mid back that goes underneath you shoulder blade, go have it looked at by a chiropractor.  He/she should be able to do wonders for you.

Side Note:  No, men do NOT have one less rib than women.