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Self-manipulation could be creating your pain, not helping it

Spinal adjustments have been studied for years as being extremely effective for relieving neck and back discomfort. So, if you wake up one day with lower back pain, should you just “crack” your back yourself? Absolutely not! And there are several reasons why.

The most obvious reason to shy away from self-adjusting has to do with the fact that chiropractors go through many years of extensive training on how to analyze the spine and adjust specific spinal misalignments. When a person self-manipulates their spine, they are unsure which bones have misaligned and in what direction those bones have misaligned. Sometimes, several bones move during a self-manipulation when only one bone was misaligned and needed to be adjusted. Surprisingly, spinal bones can misalign in a number of ways. Without objective analysis, there is no way to tell exactly how the bone has misaligned which means there is no way to self-adjust that bone back into its proper alignment.

Although there is very little research regarding self-manipulation, one of the proposed dangers of self-adjusting is the overstretching of the muscles and ligaments that support the spine due to excessive force. The repetitive movement and force required to self-adjust can also cause the muscles to become fatigued and impair their ability to protect the spine as they routinely do. This is one of the many reasons why chiropractors spend so much time perfecting their technique, to ensure that an adjustment is given safely and effectively. When it comes to self-manipulation, the overstretching of the muscles and ligaments and the fatigue created within muscles that support the spine is associated with spinal instability. It is proposed that the instability created by self-manipulating the spine can lead to or perpetuate chronic pain.

While the immediate release of self-adjusting can be satisfying initially, the result is not long-lasting. The “ahhh” feeling of an adjustment can be correlated to the release of carbon dioxide gas during the adjustment. But the immediate good feelings are only temporary, because within 15-30 minutes, the gas is reabsorbed and leaves the person feeling the exact same way as they did before the self-adjustment. This can create the habitual need to self-manipulate many times throughout the day which again, can lead to hypermobility and instability, ultimately leading to chronic pain. If a spinal misalignment is the cause of pain and/or discomfort, then specificity is key in creating long-lasting results. Adjusting only the spinal bones that are misaligned (at a frequency much less than the several times per day seen with self-manipulation) may help address the underlying structural issue causing the discomfort, without creating instability.

Because there are so many factors that go into a safe adjustment, chiropractors spend years learning how to analyze and adjust spinal misalignments. It is always our recommendation to discontinue any and all self-manipulations due to the possible dangers, and to never let somebody manipulate your spine that has not been trained to do so. It’s best to leave it to the experts!

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Doing this one thing will increase the success of your 2016 New Year’s resolution

January 1st is always filled with the resolutions of many, most of which include goals of starting fresh and working to achieve a higher level of health. But we all know what happens come February and March. Slowly but surely, the majority of resolutions are abandoned and our old habits kick in. Before we know it, we are at the end of another year, and not much has changed. There is one thing you can do to increase your success next year: START NOW!

The truth is, most of our resolutions are so grand that they easily become unrealistic to implement in one day. A common resolution we hear is, “I want to exercise 6 days per week starting January 1st!” For someone that is not currently exercising at all, there is a large gap between where they are and where they’d like to be, and it becomes challenging to achieve success in that situation. Starting now would improve the opportunity for success because that person could work their way up to exercising 6 days per week by January 1st. They may start at 3 days per week for the first two weeks, 4 days per week for the next two weeks, and 5 days per week for the two weeks after that. When January 1st hits, they are ready to bump their routine up to 6 days per week. But let’s be honest, going from no exercise to 6 days per week is near impossible for the average Joe!

Even if your New Year’s resolution is a baby step towards becoming a healthier you, starting now will increase your chance for success. Most of us have heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. The truth is, it may actually take longer for some of us. Starting your resolution now gives you over 40 days to figure out the kinks so you can consistently meet your goal in 2016. New habits are hard to form, and in the first few weeks you may forget to drink that extra water or eat your healthy snack. Those few times of not reaching your goal can be enough to derail your resolution for the rest of the year if you wait until January 1st to begin. So how great would it be to work out the details before your resolution actually starts?

Be sure to consider the logistics of how your resolution will work with your lifestyle. If the average workday allows for 30 minutes of exercise, a goal to exercise for 60 minutes three times per week is unrealistic. There is always a time component to resolutions no matter what the resolution is, so plan accordingly! And if you are into resolutions, choose one that will change your life. The greater the impact this successful resolution will make on your life, the more likely you will be to follow through! So what are you waiting for? Let’s make 2016 the best year yet by starting those healthy habits now!

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A grateful heart is a healthy heart

heart-cholesterol-800x450Okay, so the truth is that a physiologically healthy heart is not scientifically created by being grateful. But it is true that many health benefits accompany thoughts of gratefulness, and your heart will be full when you take the time to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for! With the Thanksgiving holiday near the end of the month, November is notorious for exercising gratitude. But what would happen if we focused on having a grateful heart all 365 days of the year instead of just during November? Researchers are saying that an attitude of gratitude is rewarded with better health which is why we should be appreciative year round!

For starters, a grateful tendency is linked to optimism which is known for boosting the immune system. One study found that those characterized as optimistic maintained healthy levels of the blood cells responsible for protecting the immune system as compared to their pessimistic counterparts. As we approach the winter months, gratefulness is an easy way to give your immune system a little boost to help protect against winter-time sickness.

Many times when we think of health, we think of physical health; but emotional health is also positively impacted by gratitude. Gratefulness has been promoted for years as having a mood-elevating affect and creating happiness. But did you know that there has also been an inverse relationship found between gratitude and depression? This means the more grateful a person is, the less likely they are to become depressed. Gratitude also helps us manage stressful situations more appropriately. And although stress may seem like an emotional health challenge, high levels of stress can also affect the body physically. High levels of stress increases the stress hormone cortisol, which can wreak havoc on your body by weakening the immune system, slowing down healing processes, and destroying healthy muscle and bone. Help keep your cortisol levels balanced by simply being grateful!

Gratitude has been shown to help people sleep better, improve self-esteem and self-worth, and cope better during a time of loss. Grateful people have even been shown to take better care of themselves in terms of exercising more regularly and eating healthier. So how can you practice gratitude and increase your health? One of the easiest ways is to write down 3 things you are grateful for in a daily gratitude journal. If a daily task seems impossible for your busy schedule, then focus on 5 things weekly. To get the family involved, you could make a Gratitude Jar and fill it with all the things you and your family are grateful for. Positive self-talk is also a great way to increase the gratefulness you should feel for simply being you. There is no person on this planet exactly like you, so remind yourself how special you are and reflect on some of things you have done well recently!

Starting a regimen of gratitude can be challenging, but with so many health benefits including the emotional happiness associated with thankfulness, it will be worth overcoming those challenges and practicing that attitude of gratitude!
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Daylight Saving Time could impact your health!

The “fall back” portion of Daylight Saving Time adds an extra hour to one magical day per year. This year, it happens to be on Halloween night when the clocks turn back at 2am on November 1st. How could this scenario get even better, considering we’re adding an extra hour to Halloween!? Well, what if you could improve your health, too? Good news- You can! Use that extra hour to get good rest instead of partying with the ghouls and goblins! Here are just a few of the many reasons why sleep should be on your list of priorities:
  • Sleep promotes healing. While you sleep, your brain triggers the release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This hormone is responsible for growth in children, and is also responsible for tissue repair and restoration. The release of this hormone can help you heal from minor injuries such as cuts and bruises and can also help you recover from things like inflammation, muscle soreness, and injured areas that may be contributing to pain.
  • Adequate sleep increases your learning capabilities and memory. If you’ve ever had a sleepless night, you can probably remember the fatigue that accompanied that lack of rest. With sleep deprivation, your nervous system can start to feel tired and over-worked, causing an inability to recall previously learned information. This is a major reason why everyone always suggests a good night’s rest before a big meeting, sporting event, etc.! Sleep is also important after a day of learning. The resting period allows your brain to process and retain new information that has just been learned.
  • Getting good rest can help you control your weight. The reason is really two fold- If you are tired, you are less likely to be and stay active. Also, healthy sleep is consistent with the release of healthy levels of the hormone Leptin. Leptin controls the feeling of hunger; when you miss out on sleep, your levels of Leptin decrease, causing you to be hungry. And since most people satisfy the feeling of hunger, this can lead to unnecessary weight gain.
  • A restful night can sharpen your attention span. When adults don’t get healthy rest, we feel tired which can lead to decreased productivity at work and at home. When children don’t get enough sleep, they get hyperactive which can lead to trouble at school. This is why sleep is so important for adults and children!
  • Sleep can promote emotional stability. A healthy night of sleep can help you feel refreshed and increase your mood, allowing your body and mind to manage stressful situations more appropriately. This will decrease the likely hood of random bursts of emotion- bursting into tears, snapping at a friend, or even uncontrollable laughing.
So how much sleep should you get? It is recommended that the average adult get between 7-8 hours of rest each night and school-aged children around 9-11 hours. Infants and toddlers are recommended to have 9-10 hours of sleep each evening, supplemented with an additional 2+ hours of napping throughout the day. This is just a general guideline and can change with various factors. With decreased sleep quality and previous episodes of sleep deprivation, these numbers may increase. We encourage you to perform a mini experiment to determine the perfect amount of sleep for you body’s needs. With all the amazing health benefits that sleep provides, it is worth the effort to not only find how many hours you do best with, but also make it a priority to get good rest every night!
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You have to go forever – The Chiropractic Myth

It’s always fun to meet and get to know the people that make up our amazing community. When people learn that we’re chiropractors, we get an array of responses. We mostly hear about their problem areas, chiropractic experiences, and how chiropractic has positively impacted their lives. But sometimes, we get a look of fear with a response of, “I’ve never been- I heard that once you go, you have to go forever.” While this is a common myth in chiropractic, it’s not necessarily true.

The goal for many traditional chiropractors is to help their patients manage pain. Unlike traditional chiropractic, our office is focused on helping our patients achieve normal spinal structure through tonal correction. Let’s be clear- this does not mean perfect spinal alignment. However, just like there’s a normal range for things like blood pressure and blood sugar, there’s a normal range when working to correct spinal structure. As our patients go through what we call their initial phase of care, the goal is to make structural changes in the spine so that their spinal alignment is within or closer to that acceptable range.

When the body can communicate with itself appropriately, it functions appropriately- it’s as simple as that!

To review anatomy- the spinal cord runs down through the spinal column, and each spinal nerve branches out between the vertebrae. Chiropractors work with the spine because of that intimate relationship between the spine and nervous system. When the spine shifts beyond its normal alignment, this can lead to many possible secondary conditions, including pain. On the contrary, when the spine is in alignment, it puts the nervous system in a state of ease without added tension on the cord or nerves. When the nervous system is free of the added tension caused by spinal misalignments, it’s able to function more optimally. This means the messages being sent from your brain to the rest of your body, and from your body back to the brain are able to travel through the nervous system effectively and efficiently without disruptions. When the body can communicate with itself appropriately, it functions appropriately- it’s as simple as that!

We often times find that when our patients achieve a more ideal spinal alignment, many of the secondary conditions they were experiencing before they started chiropractic care begin to diminish or completely resolve. This is not to say that the adjustment treated or healed whatever condition they presented with. However, by addressing spinal misalignments and removing stress on the nervous system, the brain and body are able to adapt and reorganize. This allows your body to function at its best which can many times result in the reduction of secondary conditions!

At the end of the initial phase of care, many of our patients achieve a normal spinal structure and their spine becomes stable in that healthy position.  Our patients then have the option to continue with what we call a protection plan which is geared towards protecting and maintaining the positive structural changes made during the initial phase of care. Physical trauma, stress, and toxins are the three biggest contributors to spinal misalignments. It’s near impossible to say that any of us don’t experience these things on a regular basis. So just like you perform maintenance on your car regularly to keep it functioning properly, we encourage our patients to be checked on a maintenance basis to prevent chronic spinal misalignments caused by trauma, stress, and/or toxins. By maintaining proper spinal alignment through a protection plan, we are avoiding the need to continuously “fix” a patient which would require them to go back through an initial phase of care all over again.

The truth is we’d rather not adjust you!

The truth is we’d rather not adjust you! WHAT!? You heard right! We actually prefer not to adjust you because this means that your spine has stabilized in its proper alignment and the nervous system is functioning without disruption. We use a very specific analysis that determines whether or not an adjustment is needed. If there are no objective indicators, and an adjustment is not required on that visit, we’ll celebrate your victory with you, knowing you are continuing on the path towards greater health and healing!

We work hard together with our patients to help them achieve a stable spinal structure and allow them to decide what the best option is for them moving forward.

With that being said, our goal is to help our patients achieve and maintain proper spinal structure so that the nervous system can function optimally. Rather than forcing patients to stay under care forever, we work hard together with our patients to help them achieve a stable spinal structure and allow them to decide what the best option is for them moving forward. More often than not, our patients choose to protect the investment they just made in their spinal structure and overall health. They never want to go back to the way they were before regular chiropractic care, and it becomes an exciting thing to prevent secondary conditions and to maintain health!

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How young is too young for chiropractic?

We get questions all the time about what age we start and why we adjust children. The most common reasons people go to a chiropractor is for secondary conditions such as headaches, neck pain, and back pain. Since that majority of kids don’t have those issues, they shouldn’t be adjusted, right? WRONG! Although pain reduction is a common goal for many of our adult patients, overall, we’re more interested in the function of the nervous system, which relates to anyone that has a spine and a nervous system- kids included!

The goal behind tonal corrective chiropractic care is to adjust misaligned spinal bones to their proper alignment, which restores the tone or tension of the spinal cord to a more normal state. When this happens, the messages being sent from the brain, down the spinal cord, and out through the spinal nerves to every muscle, tissue, and organ in your body are sent without disruption. When a misalignment is present, it can directly affect the tone or tension of the spinal cord which can therefore create miscommunication within the nervous system, leading to secondary conditions.

We said that, everyone with a spine and nervous system should be checked by a chiropractor. But how can a 1-hour-old baby have a spinal misalignment? The birthing process, no matter how natural it is, places a significant amount of stress on the baby’s head and neck. Typically, in a vaginal birth or C-section, the first body part that is grabbed and tugged is the baby’s head.  Although medical professionals are careful and gentle throughout the entire delivery process, even that slight pressure on the newborn’s head and neck can cause the very first spinal misalignment. This is why we encourage new parents to have their newborn’s very first chiropractic checkup soon after birth. Beyond birth, babies can experience spinal misalignments when learning to sit up, crawl, and even walk, seeing as those developmental milestones typically involve unsteadiness and regular tumbles until they master those skills.

Now most people think of chiropractors as “racking” and “cracking” the spine. We can assure that you will not hear the stereotypical “popping” noise at our office, regardless of who is being adjusted. Adjusting a newborn requires a very small amount of pressure applied to the spinal bone that has misaligned.  With newborns specifically, we use a very gentle technique that uses no more pressure than the amount of pressure it takes to test the ripeness of a tomato. Did you catch that? It is a VERY low amount of pressure used, and again, no “popping” noises!

We know it can be a scary idea to allow a chiropractor to adjust your new baby, but we can assure you that each adjustment in our office is specific, precise, and is given based on your baby’s needs in that moment. Especially in those very first few weeks of life, it is extremely important to make sure your newborn’s nervous system is functioning optimally, without any disruptions. This can help set the stage for great health and development!

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If my pain is right here, why are you adjusting me somewhere else?

“Doctor, my pain is in my neck. Why are you adjusting my low back?” –We get questions like this often in our office, and the patient’s concerns are extremely valid.  There are several things that go into deciding what bone needs to be adjusted and surprisingly, the location of the adjustment is not dependent on the location or even the presence of pain.

For starters, the need for an adjustment is not reliant on whether or not you have pain.  Your nerves have several different functions- motor function (movement), autonomic control (organ function), and sensory function (including the feeling of pain).  The sensory aspect of the nervous system is a just small part of your nervous system, so there could be tension on your spinal cord without the feeling of pain.  This is why you sometimes need an adjustment even though you are asymptomatic.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the spinal cord attaches at the very top and the very bottom of the spine.  When one or more of those spinal regions are misaligned, it increases the amount of tone or tension throughout the entire spinal cord and can create discomfort in other spinal regions.  For example- when a spinal bone in your neck is misaligned, it changes the tone of the spinal cord; since the spinal cord is also attached at the bottom of your spine, you may feel symptoms in your lower back from the increase in tension caused by the misalignment in your neck.  You can see in this instance how the area of pain isn’t always the area that needs to be adjusted.

When dealing with spinal structure, it’s important to remember that all of your bones, muscles, ligaments, organs, etc. work together to keep you alive in a somewhat “normal state”.  With that being said, if there is a tonal shift within the spine and a spinal bone is misaligned, the body’s natural response may be to compensate for that misalignment.  This could mean a change in posture or a spinal misalignment in another region of the spine.  If this is the case, you may experience pain as a result of the compensation and again, this is not the primary area that needs to be adjusted.

With so many things to consider, how do we know where to adjust?  This is one of the many reasons we use the technique we do.  The analysis we use is very specific at locating the areas where the primary misalignments are (meaning it doesn’t look for compensations).  Once the adjustment is made, the tone or tension of the spinal cord is able to return to a more acceptable state.  When this happens, there can be a decrease in the amount of discomfort caused by that misalignment, whether that discomfort was in the same area as the adjustment or in a completely different region of the body.  In the example of the lower back pain caused by a neck misalignment, once the neck is adjusted and the added tension on the spinal cord is released, the symptoms in the lower back can decrease.  In a similar fashion, if a spinal bone is misaligned and the body responds via compensation, once that misaligned bone is adjusted, the compensation can often times self-correct.

While it is important to note the presence of pain, pain does not dictate the adjustment.  Because your body can respond to spinal misalignments in many different ways, we would rather use a very specific analysis to determine what needs to be adjusted rather than relying solely on pain or other symptoms.  Adjusting the primary misalignments will help you achieve the greatest results in the shortest amount of time!

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Chiropractic vs. Physical Therapy – Is there a difference?

Have you ever been confused as to whether you should be seeing a chiropractor or a physical therapist? On the surface, it can seem like the two professions are very similar- both can help patients with injuries and both have a natural approach as opposed to treatment with the use of drugs and/or surgery. Even their professional symbols are Symbols - USE THIS ONEnotably similar. But the two professions are actually very different and have completely different focuses- which means the utilization of each are not the same.

Physical therapy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is therapy for the preservation, enhancement, or restoration of movement and physical function impaired or threatened by disability, injury, or disease. So basically, if a joint is injured or is affected by a disability and/or disease, the physical therapists work to restore the normal motion of the joint. They do this through the use therapeutic exercise, physical modalities, patient education, and training to do so. Their goal is to increase the range of motion of the affected joints, and build musculature to support the structure of that joint. When looking to rehabilitate soft tissue, physical therapists are the experts!

With regards to chiropractic, the type of chiropractic care we provide in the office focuses on correcting the structure of the spine. When spinal bones are misaligned (or subluxated), they begin to put pressure on the spinal nerves that serve as the communication gateway between the brain and wherever that nerve controls. Pressure on the nerves results in a disrupted signal, and can cause secondary conditions. These secondary conditions can manifest in many ways, and can even sometimes mimic conditions that are often treated by physical therapists. It’s important to note that soft tissue rehabilitation will never correct spinal misalignments, so if the condition is related to the spine, a chiropractor is who you will want to see.

Still confused? Choosing the appropriate provider isn’t always as easy as following a recipe. That’s why a thorough evaluation is so crucial. We pride ourselves on our detailed examination because our ultimate goal is to be certain that our patients are receiving the care that is appropriate for their condition. Sometimes conditions should be handled solely by a physical therapist or solely by a chiropractor; sometimes, however, a condition should be co-managed by both a chiropractor and a physical therapist who will work together to achieve a common goal. Regardless, once an examination is complete, we will be sure to get you to the appropriate health care professional, removing the worry of whether or not you’re in the right place!

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Eating Organic – Is it worth it?

Food additives, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics… There’s so much to think about when grocery shopping. One of the most talked about choices is whether or not to buy Dirty Dozenorganic. In an ideal world, with an ideal budget, we could purchase all of our foods organic; but sometimes, that’s just not feasible. So which foods are worth finding in the organic section? The Environmental Working Group has created a list to help you decide just that. This list of produce contains the highest amount of chemical residues from pesticides and should always be bought organic if possible. It includes:

Apples – Strawberries – Grapes – Celery – Peaches – Spinach – Sweet Bell Peppers – Nectarines – Cucumbers – Cherry Tomatoes – Snap Peas – Potatoes – Hot Peppers – Kale/Collard Greens

Now this list is great, but it doesn’t mention meats. If there’s anything that’s most confusing about which items to purchase, meats are it. Grass fed beef, free range chicken, cage free chicken, hormone-free meats, antibiotic-free meats, “USDA organic” meats… What’s does all of that mean, and why is it important?

Let’s first address why it may be important. Hormones, most often man-made estrogen and testosterone, are injected into young livestock to help them gain weight quickly. For production, this means more meat in a shorter amount of time, yielding an increase in profit. Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is also given to cows to increase their milk production, ultimately increasing profit. These hormones are inside the meats and milk that are consumed by humans. So what does this mean for your health? Unfortunately, nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that the animals receiving these injections are on the high side of the normal range for hormones, which increases their chances of developing chronic illnesses such as cancer. The uncertainty lies in knowing what kind of a risk this creates for those consuming the products- us!

Although nothing has been proven, some scientists attribute early puberty in today’s youth to the hormone-injected animals. According to WebMD, “the amount of hormone that enters a person’s bloodstream after eating hormone-treated meat is small compared with the amount of estrogen a person produces daily”. However, that small increase in hormone levels can negatively impact certain processes within the body. Because of the unknown effects of long-term consumption, the European Union has banned all hormones in beef, and several other countries have banned rBGH. Uncertainty means it’s up to you to decide whether or not organic meats are important for you and your family.

Should you choose organic meats, look for 100% grass-fed beef. Because cows are grass-eaters by nature, it is less than ideal for a cow to be grain-fed. As far as purchasing chicken, look for “USDA Certified Organic” chicken. To be labeled as such, the chicken must been raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones in a free-range environment with no pesticides used in the soil or on the feed. Choosing the right carton of eggs can be tricky, too. Because the word “organic” can have several different meanings, you want to avoid purchasing anything, including eggs, just because it’s labeled as “organic”. USDA Certified Organic eggs come from chickens raised using the requirements listed previously so they make a great choice. You can also keep an eye out for “cage-free” eggs; these egg-laying chickens are never kept in cages and have access to the outside. Having the freedom to roam creates a less stressful environment, especially when compared to chickens that are caged or packed tightly in small quarters.

 

Foods have the ability to enhance or diminish your energy levels, mood, immune system function, overall health, and ability to hold each chiropractic adjustment. These are just a few of the many reasons as to why it’s important to carefully select foods for you and your entire family.

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Position Matters! Sleep Optimally

We frequently have patients asking what they can do at home to help them hold their adjustments. Amongst other things, picking an appropriate sleeping position is extremely important, especially since many patients experience secondary conditions such as neck discomfort after “sleeping funny”.

So what’s the best sleeping position? As you may know, there are three main sleeping positions- stomach sleeping, side lying, and back sleeping. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Stomach Sleeping

Most of you have heard us say that this is the least desirable sleeping position. Unless you have a specialized pillow which allows you to lie face down while sleeping, the only way to comfortably breathe while stomach sleeping is by turning your head to one side. This can put abnormal stress and tension on your spinal cord, and can result in a tonal shift (or misalignment) within the spine.

Even if you do have a specialized pillow for stomach sleeping, this position is still unfavorable. These special pillows are generally wedge-shaped to allow extra space for your nose and chin while lying face down.  Sounds great in theory, but this added wedge places your spine into hyperextension, causing tension on your spinal cord. Because a neutral spine is best when choosing a sleeping position, again, stomach sleeping is not recommended.

Side Lying

Sleeping in a side-lying position is one of the easiest ways to create a neutral position for the entire spine. However, there is one key component that makes this statement true- the proper pillow height. What pillow do we recommend?  Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no one pillow that works for everyone. Keep in mind our bodies are all different- the broadness of our shoulders, head width and arm musculature are all different and all affect which pillow is best to use. With that being said, we are more concerned with the ability of a pillow to create a neutral spine than what brand it is or what material it is made of.

Side Lying2As the picture depicts, it is important to choose a pillow the supports the head in a way that creates a neutral spine. When looking at someone from behind, we want to be able to draw a horizontal line down the entire length of the spine, without any bumps or tilts. A pillow that is too flat or even too full can prevent achieving that neutral spine. Don’t be afraid to try the pillow out before you buy it!

One last piece of advice about side lying- to help maintain a neutral pelvis, try placing a pillow between your (preferably bent) knees.

Back Sleeping

Back sleeping is another position easy for keeping a neutral spine, but again, the proper pillow must be used. To maintain the normal curve of the neck, it is important to choose a flat pillow if you are a back sleeper. A fuller pillow could cause the chin to tuck towards the chest, increasing the tension of the spinal cord.

How can choosing the right pillow affect my low back?

There’s a big emphasis on proper positioning of the head while sleeping by using the correct pillow. It is easy to draw a correlation between improper head alignment and neck pain, but how can that affect your low back? Great question!

It’s important to remember that the spinal cord attaches at the very top and very bottom of the spine. Those spinal segments directly affect the tone or tension of the spinal cord, and when the spine is in its proper alignment, the tone of the spinal cord is ideal. Let’s say you have been sleeping incorrectly, and as a result, you experience a tonal shift in your neck. There is now an increase in the tone/tension of the spinal cord. Sometimes secondary conditions are felt in the areas of those tonal shifts, so in this example, in your neck. However because there is increased tension throughout the entire spinal cord, you may actually feel secondary conditions in the low back. Remember we said that the spinal cord attaches at the very top and the very bottom of the spine, so a tonal shift in the neck may create tension or “pulling” in the low back, leading to low back pain.

 

Sleep is essential for our bodies and can specifically affect mood, healing, and energy levels. Make the most of it by correcting your sleeping position- you may experience better sleep, and equally as important, reduce spinal subluxations!