Is Your Pillow A Problem?

The average American sleeps about 7 hours per night according to estimates. That is a long time to be in a relatively still position. Is it bad to sleep in a position that compromises your spine all night? Evidence suggests that poor sleeping habits may affect your health.  One way to counter this is with pillow that supports proper spinal structure.

What is proper spinal structure you may ask? If you’re a back sleeper, your pillow should tuck into the base of the neck while reinforcing the normal C-shaped curve. If you’re a side sleeper, your pillow should support your head and neck so it remains in line with the rest of your spine. Stomach sleeping does not support normal spinal structure, so we do not recommend it.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words:

pillow-chiropractor-keystone-west-des-moines

Think about it like a car. If the car’s alignment is off, what will happen? Will the tires wear more on one side than the other? Will the brakes gradually give out on the side with abnormal stress? Eventually, it could affect the whole car. Your body is no different. When your spine shifts from normal alignment, it puts added stress on the ligaments, bones, muscles, blood vessels and even the electric wiring (spinal cord) of your body. This can wear you down and cause secondary issues like muscle spasm, neck pain, headaches and more.

This is why at Keystone Chiropractic we evaluate and investigate what type of pillow our patients use to make sure it complements the correction phase of care. We measure your shoulders and make sure the pillow is the correct size. Your results are as important to us as they are for you. Our goal is to address as many factors that contribute to structural shifts of the spine as we can. After all, structure determines function.

If you’d like more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your health concerns or pillow. Please click here or call us at 515-428-1545. As always, a consultation is a conversation, NOT a commitment.

Anterior Head Syndrome and Its Effects on You

Anterior Head Syndrome is a secondary condition caused by structural shifts in the upper spine which can lead to a variety of health concerns which many people in West Des Moines deal with every day.

 

If you are experiencing a health concern and would like to learn if structural corrective chiropractic care may help, contact us today.  If you liked this video, share it with friends and family who may also benefit.

You Have to Go Forever – The Chiropractic Myth

go-forever

It’s always fun to meet and get to know the people that make up the Des Moines 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. 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 conventional chiropractors is to help their patients manage pain. Unlike conventional chiropractic, our office is focused on helping our patients achieve normal spinal structure through NeuroStructural 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 misalignment, 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. Major trauma (car accidents, falls, etc) and repetitive microtraumas (sitting for long periods, sitting at a computer, driving, bending the head forward to check e-mail or social media) are the biggest contributors to spinal structural abnormalities. It’s near impossible to say that any of us don’t experience these things on a regular basis.  You likely have regular maintenance done on your car 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 rehash the same issues over and over again.

The truth is we’d rather not adjust you!

Yes, you read that 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!

My Pain Is In My Neck, Why Are You Adjusting My Low Back?

neck-pain

“Dr. Megan, my pain is in my neck. Why are you adjusting my low back?” We get questions like this often in our office, and the concerns are extremely valid.  There are several things that go into deciding what bone(s) 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), automatic function (organ function), and sensory function (including the feeling of pain).  Sensory function is just small part of your nervous system, so there could be tension on your spinal cord  and nerves without the feeling of pain.  This is why you sometimes need an adjustment even though you do not have symptoms.

It is also important to note 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 tension throughout the entire spinal cord and can create discomfort in other spinal regions.  For example, when a spinal bone in your neck has shifted from its normal position, 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 structural shift within the spine, the body’s natural response may be to compensate for that misalignment.  This could mean a distortion in posture or a shift in spinal structure in another region of the spine.  If this is the case, you may experience pain as a result of this compensation, but again, the site of pain may not be 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 chose our unique focus (NeuroStructural Correction).  Our analysis of spinal structure is very specific,  locating the areas where the primary misalignment(s) are (meaning it doesn’t look for compensations).  Once the adjustment is made, the tone or tension of the spinal cord and nerves are able to return to a more acceptable state.  When this happens, there can be a decrease in the amount of discomfort caused by that structural shift, 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 misalignment in the upper spine, once the shift is adjusted back toward normal, 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 shifted 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 structural shifts in many different ways, we would rather use a very specific, objective analysis to determine what needs to be adjusted, rather than relying solely on pain or other symptoms.  Correcting the primary shift(s) of you spine will help you achieve the greatest results in the shortest amount of time!

Did you enjoy this post?               

Make sure to share with your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you think may benefit this information.

TMJ Dysfunction and Structural Chiropractic

 

tmj

A common condition that we have seen more frequently in our office is temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJD. Many people have the occasional jaw pain when taking a bite of a big burger or crunching down on hard candy, but people with chronic jaw pain can suffer terribly.

TMJ problems occur in the joint that connects your jaw to the rest of your head. Normal motion of this joint is not an option when it comes to having a jaw that functions normally. When correct jaw motion is compromised, the impact can be severe and can cause a variety of secondary issues, including:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Teeth grinding
  • Sharp jaw pain
  • Clenching
  • Painful clicking
  • …and more

Generally, problems with the TMJ have two main causes:

  1. Muscle dysfunction – the jaw muscles (masseter, temporalis, pterygoids) become dysfunctional leading to pain and abnormal movement patterns.
  2. Joint dysfunction – the TMJ is a complex joint. The disc within the joint can shift, the joint can degenerate, and the extremely sensitive nerve endings surrounding the joint can become inflamed.

To understand why the muscles of the jaw become dysfunctional, it’s important to understand what controls the muscles of the joint. Every muscle in your body, from your heart to your back to your bicep, is controlled by a nerve. The muscles of the jaw are under control of the Trigeminal Nerve, which is one of the 12 special nerves known as Cranial Nerves.  Cranial nerves are special because they do not originate from the spine, they originate from the brain stem and exit out of the skull. Due to this, issues with the cranial nerves are usually a sign of a problem at the brain stem.

People with TMJD typically don’t have isolated jaw pain, they often have neck pain and headaches as well. A PubMed search shows numerous studies outlining an increased occurrence of TMJD in patients who have suffered a whiplash injury or head trauma. There is a close relationship of the Trigeminal Nerve and the top vertebrae in the neck. A strucutural abnormality at the top of the spine can create conditions where abnormal pain signals can occur.

 

How can NeuroStructural Chiropractic help with TMJD issues?

At Keystone Chiropractic, we look for structural abnormalities in the spine. Most of the cases we see, a structural shift is present at the topmost bone in the neck, the atlas, due to its unique shape and biomechanics. This area of the spine is connected to key structures of jaw function and can be the culprit in many TMJD cases. Our goal is to correct and stabilize this area so that the nerves can function normally again. We end up co-managing many cases with dentists who focus on TMJ treatment, which has been of great benefit to the patient.

Please contact us to schedule complimentary consultation where we can discuss if NeuroStructural Chiropractic can be part of the solution for your TMJ issue.

Do You Have One of These 5 Warning Signs?

If you or someone you know has one or more of the following signs, it is likely an indication of a structural abnormality in the body’s inner framework, the spine.

1.) Chronic Headaches

Headaches are a huge indicator that someone has a problem in their upper spine. There are many different types of headaches and a few stand out in relation to spinal structure.

  • Migraine headaches
  • Occipital headaches (start in the back of the skull)
  • Tension Headaches – with pain centers around the side of the head and jaw

Just because headaches are common does NOT mean they are normal. Many people suffering for months or years have a structural problem in their upper spine. Abnormalities in this area can disrupt proper blood flow to the head and face and disrupt proper nervous system function throughout the whole body.

2.) Popping and Cracking of the Spinal Bones

This typically indicates that one or more segments of a person’s spine have become unstable. There is an increased risk for serious injury and spinal decay can occur in these areas at an accelerated pace.

3.) Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS)

AHS occurs when the center of the ear has shifted in front of the center of the shoulder. This causes a loss of the healthy C-curve in the upper spine and can also lead to spinal decay.

AHS is often associated with the dreaded Dowager’s (Granny) Hump appearance common in women.

Anterior Head Syndrome

Other secondary conditions associated with AHS include:

  • Spinal Decay
  • Migraine headaches
  • TMJ Disorder
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Neck pain
  • and more…

4.) Numbness and Tingling

Numbness or tingling down the arms or the legs is also a big warning sign. There may be a spinal problem that has progressed to the point where the nerves branching from the spinal cord are being affected. Nerves are very important and fragile. It only takes a small amount of pressure on them to create secondary issues in the body.

5.) Uneven Head or Shoulders

If you look in the mirror and see your head tilted slightly to one side or the other, and one of your shoulders more elevated than the other, this is a very strong indicator that there is likely a problem with the Upper Spine.

When you look in the mirror with your head relaxed, you should be able to draw a straight horizontal line through the following points:

  • Bottom of the ears
  • Corners of the eyes
  • Corners of the mouth
  • Tops of the shoulders

The Upper Spine is where the skull attaches to the neck and is a critically important area of the spine. A problem here can affect the entire body.

head tilt

If you, a friend, or family member has one or more of the above warning signs do not wait for them to get better on their own! These are signs that indicate a structural abnormality. Problems with structure lead to problems with function in your body. The sooner these problems are detected and then corrected, the better the outcome will be.

 

Did you enjoy this post?               

Make sure to share with your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you think may benefit this information.

Why Won’t My Baby Stop Crying?

crying babyYour baby has all the signs: loud piercing cry, flexed legs, tensed abdominal muscles, and clenched fists. The crying is excessive and uncontrollable.

Your stress is high and you are frustrated because nothing you try seems to soothe or calm them down. You’ve fed them, changed them, sang to them, rocked them, and you’re not sure what to do next. It’s interfering with your mother-baby (or father-baby) bonding. You don’t want to leave the house. You’re starting to feel like you’re going crazy.

Why won’t my baby stop crying?

Although there are many different factors that play a role in the development of a colicky baby, in all cases Nervous System stress is present.

The birth process is a stressful one no matter how natural it is. The introduction of any intervention (bed rest, induction, augmentation, pitocin, antibiotics, epidurals, continuous fetal monitoring, inability to move around, manual traction, vacuum, forceps, C-section, intensive care, etc.) has a direct effect on a baby’s spine and the system that it protects: the Nervous System.

Any pressure on the Nervous System, especially in the upper cervical spine (top of the neck) can be detrimental to a baby’s health, physiology, growth and development. That is because the Nervous System is the master controller – it absolutely controls and coordinates everything the body perceives and does.

In numerous research studies, chiropractic care has shown excellent results for helping babies with colic. One study reported 94% of colicky babies demonstrating improvement with chiropractic care. In another study, the improvement in crying behavior and reduced hours spent crying was significant when compared to groups where parents just waited it out (a 67% reduction in crying time!!).

Not to mention the endless case reports of happy parents all over the world the first time after they watch their baby go home and sleep for several hours straight after an adjustment. It happens quite often.

To be clear, there is no “colic” adjustment. No adjustment to a crying baby is by any means a “treatment” for their behavior. A chiropractic assessment on any human (a few days old or many years old) determines whether any obstruction to the nervous system is present. If there is, gentle corrections are made to the spine. This removes obstruction to the nervous system, allowing it to function optimally.

When consulting with parents, we find out as much as we can about the mother’s pregnancy and birth experience, and the health and behavior of the infant thus far. The examination involves observing the baby for asymmetries in their structure and function, assessing the overall tone of the body, and gently assessing the position and motion of their joints. Neurological tests and findings will indicate if there is any obstruction present and how severe it is.

If you, a friend, or family member is struggling with a baby who won’t stop crying we would be happy to see if we can help.

 

Did you enjoy this post?               

Make sure to share with your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you think may benefit this information.

When Is Supplementation Necessary?

There is no such thing as a silver bullet when it comes to health. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes. However, your body DOES have an amazing ability to heal and recover, sometimes far quicker than you might expect.

Health is a result of meeting the vital requirements of the human body.

 

Plants for example, require sunlight, water, and nutrient-rich soil. If you have a plant with yellow leaves, the most obvious solution would be to simply meet the requirement that is lacking (i.e. more sunlight), and not just paint the leaves green.water

In a similar manner, every human being has certain vital requirements that are essential for optimal health to occur. We need movement, nutrient dense foods, structural integrity and a healthy functioning nervous system, to name a few.

Meeting the nutritional requirements of the body can be hard. There is contradicting information and it’s hard to know what advice to follow.

When it comes to nutrition, it can be boiled down to a simple fact; you need to supply your body’s nutrient requirements in the most efficient way with the least amount of toxicity.

A great first step to ensure you’re getting your body’s nutrient requirements is to increase the amount of foods that are nutrient dense. This includes foods that have protein, fat, vitamins and minerals the body needs. These foods are usually found in nature, NOT in a package. Vegetables, fruits, healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, etc), lean meats (turkey, grass fed beef, chicken, wild salmon and fish), and fermented foods (kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut) are all great choices to meet your body’s requirements.

However, over the past 200 years there has been disruptions in the food supply and its nutrient profile.

Changes that have occurred:

  • Increased reliance on grains and grain products
  • Decline in soil quality (slight decline in nutrient density of foods grown)
  • Increase in exposure of food and environmental toxins
  • Reduction in animal fat consumption

As mentioned we recommend to turn to real food whenever possible to meet your body’s nutrient requirements.

There are instances where your body may not be getting the vital nutrition it needs through food and supplementation is necessary.

 

There are two key 2 Essential Supplements we recommend to make sure your body is getting everything it needs. The best available evidence says most Americans are deficient in the following:

1. Omega 3 Fatty Acidsfish oil

People used to get essential fatty acids from many sources like wild game, seafood, grubs, and insects.  All fatty acids are essential, but it is optimal to have them  within a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio (Omega 3 : Omega 6). Most western cultures are expected to have a ratio of 1:10 and even up to 1:50. The higher the ratio, the more likely inflammation is present in the body which creates an environment ripe for disease.

Supplementing with a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil has been proven to be the best way to re-balance this ratio. It also is helpful to decrease sources of Omega 6 you consume (whole grain bread, vegetable oils, cereal, nuts, etc).

How much do you need?

This largely depends on the supplements you’re taking, but typically 2-4 grams of EPA/DHA per day. Please consult your preferred health provider before beginning supplementation.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a critical nutrient that is essential in immune function. Vitamin D deficiency can happen for different reasons:

  • Lack of sun exposure (w/o sunscreen)
  • Aging (increased age = decreased capacity to produce Vitamin D)
  • Darker skin tone
  • Excess body fat

In Des Moines, Iowa to get your daily dose of Vitamin D, it takes about 15 minutes of sitting in the sun with as much skin exposed as possible (swimsuit, or shorts and tank top). This is possible to achieve from May through September.

It is hard to obtain enough Vitamin D during October through April, so we recommend Vitamin D supplementation especially during the winter months.

To recap:

  1. Focus on eating real food – fruits, veggies, healthy fat, lean meats, fermented foods (high in probiotics)
  2. Omega 3 supplementation
  3. Vitamin D supplementation September thru April
  4. If your budget allows: a high quality probiotic and multi-vitamin

At Keystone Chiropractic we do NOT recommend every supplement under the sun and only carry the highest quality supplements including Omega 3 and Vitamin D. A bonus is that both of these nutrients are vital in supporting an optimal functioning nervous system.

Did you enjoy this post?               

Make sure to share with your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you think may benefit this information.

3 Tips for Healthy Hydration

It is important to keep in mind at all times of the year, but as the mercury rises, it’s more important than ever to focus on how much fluids your body receives each day. Water is one of the most essential components of the human body; it makes up over half of it! It regulates body temperature, cushions and protects vital organs & joints,  aids in digestion, and waste elimination.

You may see how dehydration may cause a variety of issues. Look for the following signs & symptoms to see if dehydration may be part of the problem:water

  • Increased thirst
  • Decreased energy
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Headaches
  • Dark yellow urine or decreased urine output
  • Sticky or dry mouth
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Irritability

It is important to drink water even before signs of thirst appear. Thirst is a signal that your body is already on the way to dehydration. It is important to drink more than thirst demands and to continue to drink throughout the day.

In one hour of exercise the body can lose more than a quart of water, depending on the workout intensity and air temperature. If there is not enough water for the body to cool itself through sweating, the body enters a state of dehydration. The efficiency of Oxygen delivery to muscle tissue and waste removal is decreased which allows fatigue to set in sooner. In other words, exercise performance suffers.

During exercise, water is the best fluid replenisher for most people, although electrolyte drinks help replace lost store through high-intensity exercise exceeding 45 to 60 minutes. Individuals who sweat profusely during exercise and whose sweat contains high amounts of sodium (you may notice salt rings on your clothes or “gritty” feel to your skin) you may benefit from an electrolyte drink.

Tips for Healthy Hydration

 

Have a Goal

A general recommendation is to drink half of your body weight in ounces (Example: a 150 lb person should drink 75 ounces per day).

If you exercise, you’ll need more.

Carry a water bottle with hash marks so you can keep track throughout the day. Set reminders to help you stay accountable. Track your progress in a journal or using a smart phone app like this one.

Sample hydration schedule for an average 150 lb person:

  • Wake up – 8oz
  • Breakfast – 8oz 30 min before and after
  • Mid-morning – 8 oz
  • Lunch – 8 oz 30 min before & after
  • Midday – 8 oz
  • Dinner – 8 oz 30 min before & after
  • Before bed – 8 oz

Drinking water both before and after meals help aid digestion and can help curb appetite, which may be helpful for weight loss.

Flavor Up

If you find it hard to choke down plain water all day to get enough, try infusing it with flavorful fruits like lemon and raspberries. There are many fresh recipes for fruit infused water here.

flavor water

What about coffee?

You may have heard to avoid coffee if you want to stay hydrated. A recent study debunks the myth that it also causes dehydration. A daily cup can contribute to your water needs, coffee can also give you a sharper memory and boost athletic endurance and performance.

Eat Your Water

Eating foods high in water content (fruits and vegetables) also provide an added bonus of fiber, electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals.

Foods with 90% or more water content include watermelon, cucumbers, celery, strawberries, bell pepper, cantaloupe, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, pineapple, carrots, grapefruit, broccoli, and tomatoes.

 

Many people are conscious about the types of foods they include and exclude from their diet to optimize their health. Make sure you don’t overlook one of the most important nutrients you body needs to properly function each and every day – WATER!

 

Did you enjoy this post?               

Make sure to share with your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you think may benefit this information.

Is Your Child Living to Their Potential?

“One day I felt fine, and then the next day I was just miserable…”child

Have you heard someone say this? Probably enough that it’s hard to recognize the absurdity of that statement.  Except for severe trauma like car accidents, major falls, poisoning, etc., people do not suddenly become ill. Disease is not happen spontaneously.

Small repetitive traumas, long-term abuse and negligence, though unnoticeable at first, takes a toll on the body over a period of time. When the first secondary issues (symptoms) appear, the body has already been malfunctioning for some period of time – months to even years.

Studies have shown that a significant percentage of children undergo trauma during the birthing process. Chiropractors focusing on NeuroStructural Correction are trained to located structural abnormalities in the spine that may be impairing nervous system function.

No only will this spinal and neurological imbalance become part of a child’s structure as they develop, but many of them will go 30 or 40 years – and possible the rest of their lives – with the effects of that initial damage to the spine and nerve system affecting both their health and quality of life.

Any obstruction to the body’s master control system results in a lessening in every aspect of that child’s function. An impaired nerve system could reduce immune function, concentration, recovery from illness and injury; it could lessen athletic performance and digestive function. It could even alter behavior.

While it is true that people often see a chiropractor to help them recover from physical health problems, that is not the purpose of chiropractic care. Chiropractic adjustments are aimed at correcting structural abnormalities that compromise neurological integrity. This is vital for everyone to reach their full health potential.

Some may be concerned about the forcefulness of an adjustment for a growing child. That would be a legitimate concern if all people received the same adjustment. Thankfully, they do not. Age and size are taken into consideration; providing a spinal correction for a baby uses no more pressure than one uses to check the ripeness of a tomato.

If we understand that health means 100% function, not merely being symptom-fee, then the function of the nerve and spinal system needs to be addressed.

Who has more potential to benefit from chiropractic care than our kids?

 

Did you enjoy this post?               

Make sure to share with your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you think may benefit this information.

Tips for Optimizing Balance and Coordination

Have you ever wondered how you are able to walk through your house in the middle of the night, and still with a reasonable amount of confidence, not run into walls?

It is pretty obvious that being in your own house you have seen it numerous times during the day that you are able to recall from memory, to a relatively accurate degree, where dangers would be when navigating the hallways and stairs at night.

This might seem like a simple concept, but it is a very important part of having optimal balance and coordination. Try this for a moment:

Stand up from your chair, have your hands at your sides, and now try and touch the tip of your nose with the tip of your left index finger.

How did you go?  Chances are you were successful, but why? How does this work?

Your brain is always in constant communication with your body and your body is in constant communication with your brain, this information going from your body to your brain is called PROPRIOCEPTION.  Proprioception is what allows your brain to have an internal map of where your body is in space, as well as where your body is relative to other objects, even with your eyes closed.

How does this relate to balance?

If for some reason your brain does not have a clear internal map of where your body is relative to its environment, then your balance and coordination would be compromised. Think about it like this; if you are walking through a dark house, but instead of your own house it is one you have never seen before. How do you think you would do? I would imagine a few yells in the dark as you stub your toe or bump your head. In a similar way, if there is a breakdown in the communication between your brain and your body, your brain won’t have an accurate internal map of your body relative to its environment and your balance and coordination will suffer.

Structural Shifts in the spine obstruct the communication between your brain and body, affecting the brains internal map of your body relative to its environment. When your brain does not have an accurate internal map of the body relative to its environment your balance and coordination will suffer.

Now you might be saying: “My Balance is Fine” 

Your balance may be fine compared to a clumsy sibling, but is it good as it can be? If you have a Structural Shift in your spine obstructing the communication between your brain and your body, then your balance may not be as good as it can be.balance west des moines

Altered Proprioception is not just an issue that affects your balance; it might mean you get injured more often (not just injuring your back or neck, but your shoulder, ankle etc.). It affects your workouts or ability to play sports; think about how important coordination is to golf, tennis, cross-fit etc.).

Whether you have poor balance, want to perform at your best in sports or just get injured less often, it is important to have a clear communication between your brain and your body (Proprioception).  Structural Chiropractic focuses on correcting structural shifts in the spine, clearing up the communication between your brain and body, leading to better function, less accidents & falls, and a healthier you.  Allowing your brain to have a clear internal map of your body and how it relates to its environment, just like when you were walking through your house in the dark.

Did you enjoy this post?               

Make sure to share with your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you think may benefit this information.

The Root of the Matter

Spring is in full swing and summer is quickly approaching in Des Moines.  With it comedandelions a variety of outdoor activities including farmer’s markets, festivals, getting out on the trails, and everyone’s favorite…mowing the lawn!

Whether mowing the lawn is your favorite thing to do or not, it’s a necessary evil to help keep your lawn health and beautiful. Something that often gets in the way of a beautiful lawn are WEEDS – dandelions, crabgrass, and clover – which seem to appear out of no where. Mowing your lawn temporarily reduces the obvious appearance of weeds, but if you don’t remove them by their roots, they will continue to pop up again and again.

Getting to the root of the matter is also important when it comes to your health.

 

Conventional doctors regardless of the area of healthcare typically look to manage secondary conditions (symptoms). In the above example, the conventional doctor would mow over the dandelion heads after they grow back each time.

With our unique focus, NeuroStructural Correction; our goal is to correct the problem at its root, so secondary issues are less likely to pop up again and again. It may take a bit more time and patience, but this approach is geared toward creating a lasting correction, rather than simply placing a bandage over the problem.

 

What to do about Migraines?

When was the last time you had a headache?  Perhaps it was it was last month, it may have been a few days ago, or maybe you have one right now! Headaches are a well-known and common discomfort that most people experience in their lives. They can range from a dull discomfort the morning after a few too many alcoholic beverages to an intense migraine with a variety of unpleasant symptoms.  Our focus in this post is to more closely examine migraines, a severe condition that millions of people suffer from each year.

Phases of Migraines

To determine whether or not you are experiencing a migraine there are a few key components that distinguish them from other types of headaches. The most unique thing is that there are four different phases:

Predrome

The predrome phase is characterized by subtle changes that are indicative of body chemistry changes. They may include secondary conditions (symptoms) such as constipation, depression, irritability, craving of certain foods, or possibly a stiff neck. These changes serve as a warning of a beginning of an episode and signal a person to take action.  Acting quickly may stop an episode before it becomes a full-blown migraine.

Aura

The aura phase is unique to migraine headaches. Aura describes the visual, auditory, or speech disturbances experienced by a migraine sufferer. There may be flashes of light, sensitivity to sound, or inability to speak clearly. Thankfully, most people do NOT experience an aura during an episode and therefore have what are called “common migraines.” Those that do experience an aura have “classic migraines.” These symptoms can typically last anywhere from 20-60 minutes.

Pain/Attack

In the pain or attack phase there is typically a one-sided pain that is experienced in the head. In some cases the pain involved both sides of the head (bilateral). The pain usually occurs after the aura phase is over and can last anywhere from one to 72 hours.

Postdrome

The postdrome stage is the phase of decreasing secondary conditions and pain and the onset of fatigue. Migraine sufferers usually report feeling rundown and worn out. They are similar to the ones experienced in the predrome phase. Things such as head/neck pain, digestive issues, mood swings, and even mild euphoria have been noted.

Major Causes

How is it that some people can eat the salty or processed foods that can cause migraines without issues while others avoid them entirely because they would cause a migraine? Or, why do some women get migraines that occur during their menstrual cycle while other women don’t experience them at all?

There are varying causes for migraine headaches. However, a common theme is that they rely on the body’s inability to adapt to its environment.  In part, migraines can result from a chemical imbalance. That is why they typically come on during menstrual cycles, after consuming certain things such as aged cheese, processed/salty foods, or alcohol.  A period of prolonged stress can also trigger an episode.

Proper communication of messages to and from the brain are critical to how your body perceives and is able to adapt to its changing environment. As you may know, there are tiny webs of nerves surrounding the vessels that allow blood to pass into the outer areas of your skull. When the electronic signals to that area are obstructed (via a structural shift in the spine), the result is a release of an excessive amount of blood into the outer area of the skull – resulting in a migraine. Even if a migraine is triggered by a glass of wine, the primary cause is typically a structural abnormality.

Anterior Head Syndrome

Structural abnormalities like AHS can result in secondary conditions such as migraines.

What Are My Treatment Options?

There are various trigger for migraines just as there are a variety of treatment options. The most common is over the counter medications such as Excedrin. Typically, if that fails to work, someone would obtain a prescription that may help lessen the chance of a full-blown migraine when in the predrome phase.  This may also help decrease the effects of secondary conditions in the aura or attack phases. Acupuncture has also been shown to decrease the frequency and intensity of migraines. If those options don’t work, more invasive procedures are typically explored. Devices such as neurostimulators may be implanted or decompression surgeries of the nerves affected may be used.

traffic

At Keystone Chiropractic, we focus on NeuroStructural Correction of the spine.   By correcting the abnormality, we allow the nerves to function like a highway absent of any traffic. Thus, the person who had to worry about drinking a glass of wine no longer has an issue.

 

If you suffer from migraines, feel free to contact us to see if our unique focus on Neuro-Strucutral Correction could be the right approach for you.

 

Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Stretching and Warming Up

training-603981_1920As the New Year began, you may have started a new exercise regime or class.  Whether you’re new to exercise or not, many people, especially if pressed fro time tend to skip the warm-up, figuring the main workout is what really counts. Warming up before exercise is neither the fun nor glamorous part of your routine, but forgoing it sets you up to decrease your performance and increase risk of injury.

Many people get to the gym and start doing a few static stretches before they get going.  You may not know that stretching and warming up is not the same thing. You may think stretching is a warm-up, but this is a common mistake. In fact, stretching before an activity is not doing much for you at all.

What the Research Says

Traditionally, it was thought that you should stretch before strenuous activity to reduce the risk of injury.

Studies have shown stretching before activity does nothing for the reduction of injuries.  According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, injuries are believed to occur during the eccentric phase of contraction, which is part of a muscle’s normal range of motion.  If injuries occur during the normal range of motion, then why would increasing that range of motion prevent injuries?  So, if stretching before activity is not going to help prevent injuries, what is the answer?

What to Do Before a Workout

It is really simple.  Warm-up in a way that is specific to the activity in which you plan to participate.  Here’s something profound, a warm-up must actually make you warm.  The goal is to slightly raise your body temperature, just enough so you break a sweat. This, in turn, allows for less strains, tears, and sprains and results in a safer, more efficient workout.

Then consider that the warm up must match the movements you will be doing during your more strenuous activity. Perhaps an easier way to think of this is with weight training. If your workout calls for weighted squats, then a good warm-up would be body weight squats. This begins to activate the muscles around the hip, knee, ankle, and core.

Remember, the goal is to warm up with the same movements or as close as you can get to the actual movements required by your workout or sport.

Examples of versatile warm up moves that can be performed before most workouts include: jumping jacks, arm circles, walking lunges, butt kicks, air squats, and trunk rotations.  Start out with 30 seconds of each move.

The Takeaway

In order to get the most out of your exercise session, focus on warm-up movements that mirror the movements of the activities in which you plan to do. Do as many reps as you need until you feel ready.  Save foam rolling or static stretching for after training or at night. Unless you are a professional athlete, your training time is limited. By following the steps above, you will place your body in the right situation in the time you do have for increased performance and reduced risk of injury.

*Also, in winter your warm up is even more critical. We are in the middle of the season of tight, cold muscles and decreased mobility.  For optimum performance all winter long and an injury-free return to spring, a serious warm-up is your best friend.

Healthy New Year!

new-years-resolutions-tips
Wishing you a healthy 2016!  A new year is a time many reflect on the past year and look ahead to what’s to come.  What are you looking forward to?  Are there areas of your life you wish to improve?  Some of the most common goals at the start or at other times of the year have to do with improving one’s body both inside and out.

Our body, for one reason or another always seems to get put on the back burner. Media, fashion, advertisements, and personal success all pull us one direction while our couch, convenience foods, sugar, and cigarettes will pull us in another. What suffers most is the body.

Health and wellness is one of the best gifts you can give yourself or a loved one. The one question our office can help with is, “Can I be healthier then I am now?”.

Keystone Chiropractic can help provide you with an answer by looking at your spine carefully for Structural Shifts.

Abnormal shifts in the spine can result in secondary conditions such as muscle tension, knee pain, migraines, low back pain. In addition, shifts in the spine can also obstruct the nerves that allow the body to manage and moderate its numerous functions.

The human body itself is extremely adaptable and resilient. This is why it can take years or of small repetitive trauma to eventually manifest as noticeable secondary problems mentioned above. Once your nervous system and body is overburdened due to abnormal shifts in its underlying foundation, it will function less than optimally and can take quite a bit of work to undo the damage.

Correcting abnormal shifts in the spine has far reaching effects structurally throughout the body, but also functionally to all the different systems that automatically regulate your body.

When following through on your goal to live healthier and happier, sometimes figuring out where to begin is the toughest part.  Make this 2016 the healthiest yet and find out if NeuroStructural Chiropractic is the right fit for you. You’ll be glad you did!

 

A Simple Philosophy for Indulging

The holiday season is  underway with many parties and other festivities around the Des Moines area.  Perhaps you’ve already attended holiday parties with friends, family, or coworkers and have more to look forward to.  These gatherings often have a focus around FOOD!

You may have seen headlines or read articles on ways to cut carbs or make healthy alternatives for the holidays.  I could certainly focus this article around that, but don’t believe it to be very practical.  For many, the holidays are a time to indulge a little, and that’s OKAY just as long as you don’t get trapped on the cycle of indulgence (ceasing your workouts, eating lots of sugar, partaking in endless leftovers, etc).

cupcakesWe certainly aren’t nutritionists, but in today’s post we’ll expand on a simple philosophy that will allow you to think differently on how you approach the abundance of food you may find yourself around in the coming weeks and in the year to come.  This philosophy is Hell Yes or No.  It can be applied to many areas of life, but today we’ll apply it to eating.

If you’re looking to indulge in something that makes you say, “Yeah! I REALLY want that because I’ve been looking forward to enjoying it” – then it’s a YES!  Anything that’s less than that is a NO.  It sounds ridiculously simple because it is.   If you’re more analytical, you could give it a rating on a scale of 1-10.  If it’s anything lower than a 9 or 10, then it’s a NO.

For example, there’s a dessert spread at a holiday gathering with my mom’s homemade pumpkin pie, store-bought cupcakes, brownies, apple pie, and chocolate chip cookies.  I love my mom’s pumpkin pie and she only makes it once a year.  For me, the pumpkin pie is what I know I’d really enjoy; it’s a yes.  The rest of it, I could certainly eat, but wouldn’t be too upset if I passed on it.

The thing to keep in mind during the holidays and all year is that changing your diet for a meal or even ONE day will not kill your eating habits.  In fact, it can reinforce your good eating habits. How?  Well, you may feel like garbage after gorging on sweets, alcohol, or a heavy meal.

When you eat right most of the time, your body signals you so you know when you’re doing things wrong.  The problem is that this plan doesn’t work if you choose to let the entire holiday season derail your health goals.

Try out the Hell Yes or No philosophy over the coming weeks and into 2016 and see if it makes a difference for you.

Do You Work With Kids?

People are often surprised to find out that we work with so many kids in the office. Most people are under the impression that children are way too young to have a structural problem in the spine.  It is true that some kids we check in the office have no structural problems at all.

However, statistics from the Center for Disease Control show some alarming numbers. Each year, over 1 million children between the ages of 0-5 will be hospitalized due to a fall. Another 700,000 will be hospitalized from an accidental trauma. That’s not even including the number of kids who will suffer a trauma to the spine, but are never taken to the ER!

boy
Most people will never even know or think about taking their kids to a chiropractor following a fall or trauma. The great news is, that kids are extraordinarily resilient to injury. They bounce back up, and their ability to heal is just much better than that of an average adult. However, structural problems in the spine don’t necessarily cause neck pain and back pain, especially in children. What they can do is create other secondary conditions. Whenever there is obstruction on the nerves from a structural misalignment of the spine, many kids can have conditions such as:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Immune problems
  • Ear infections
  • ADHD
  • Torticollis

These are just a few of the common conditions that parents bring their children to chiropractors for. While it’s not a chiropractor’s job to treat these symptoms, they are signs that the nerve supply from a child’s spine is compromised. For many kids, this can be tied to a difficult or traumatic birth process.

 

infant birth traumaThe best part of all is how much kids love getting gentle adjustments. It’s often times a parent’s worst nightmare to take their kids to a doctor. The screaming and tantrums on display at a pediatrician or a dentist can unnerve even the strongest parent. A child and infant adjustment is very different than an adult’s, and you’ll usually see kids that are excited to be checked!  The amount of pressure used to adjust an infant no more than you would use to check the ripeness of a tomato.

But the most important reason that kids should be checked early is just because it makes sense. When most adults develop acute or chronic secondary conditions, x-rays usually show that a problem has been growing in the spine for 15+ years. Why let kids develop the same problems that us adults have had?

Just like we take our kids for a dental check-up to ensure that they are free of cavities, our kids deserve a structural check-up to prevent the damage of a structural shift.

What You Need to Know about H2O

Often times, when describing Neuro-Structural Correction to a patient, we’ll liken it to the alignment of a car.  If there is a shift within the frame of the car, or a structural issue, secondary problems are likely to occur.  Similarly, when there are structural shifts of the spine, secondary conditions are likely to arise.  And, just like your car, your body also requires the proper fluid levels to operate efficiently.

Did you know that your body is mostly water; over 60 percent, in fact.  Even the lightest of activities throughout the day can begin to deplete that percentage, leading to dehydration.  This lack of fluids could ultimately lead to a lack of proper function of your body.

How do I know if I’m dehydrated?hydration

Indicators of dehydration include:

  • fatigue
  • headache
  • light headedness/ dizziness
  • dark urine (urine should be clear when properly hydrated)
  • muscle cramps

One would also think that thirst would be a sign of dehydration, but it is a bad indicator.  Most likely, fluid levels have been depleted for some time before someone becomes thirsty.  The best way to fight dehydration is to drink water before you’re thirsty.

Hydration and Your Health

Since our bodies are mostly water, maintaining proper hydration is essential to optimal health.  Decreased water intake could potentially lead to a variety of health problems that could affect every organ system, from your heart and lungs, to your skin, and even your brain and nervous system.

Some specific effects of chronic dehydration may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma & Allergies
  • Skin disorders
  • High cholesterol
  • Bladder or kidney issues
  • Digestive disorders/Constipation
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Weight gain

Keeping hydrated allows your heart to pump blood with less force through blood vessels and to the body so everything can work efficiently.  It allows your lungs to expand and contract appropriately when you take a breath in and out.  Maintaining proper fluid levels allows you to seat when you exercise, cooling your body when it’s needed.  And, most importantly it can help your brain and nervous system function correctly by helping ensure the proper concentration of neurotransmitters, which the brain and nerve cells use to communicate.

water-830374_1920Choosing the right Beverage

Many people believe that if you’re putting fluid into your body, you are helping to maintain proper hydration.  While intensive exercise may require you to use a sports drink (which is best used diluted; 50% sports drink, 50% water), regular hydration is best achieved by drinking WATER.  In fact, a goal to aim for is to drink half of you body weight, in ounces.

For example, if someone weighs 160 pounds, they should try to drink approximately 80 ounces of water each day.

Some beverages can actually lead to dehydration.  These include alcohol and caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, soda).  Beverages, such as these, are actually diuretics (they make you urinate) and therefore deplete the fluid levels of your body.

Choose the right Foodshydration foods

As you may know, many foods contain high amounts of H2O.  If you find it hard to guzzle water during the day, many fruits and vegetables can help fulfill your fluid requirements in addition to providing key nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Fruits: watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, cantaloupe all have over 90% water content per volume.

Vegetables: cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, radish, celery, tomatoes, green cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, red cabbage, peppers, spinach, and broccoli are all over 90% water by volume.

Keys to staying hydrated

Drink early, drink often, and drink after!

Drink early – if you are planning to work out, make sure you are drinking water well in advance of your activity (1-2 hours).  And, remember you should drink water before you become thirsty.

Drink often – your body will function better if you take small drinks or sips of water rather than chugging a large amount all at once.

Drink after – no matter how hard you try to maintain fluid levels during a workout, or throughout the day, it is important to drink water after you finish an activity, or at the end of the day to ensure you are hydrated properly.

Proper hydration is essential to a properly functioning body.  Follow these simple steps to help ensure optimal health.

 

 

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

Is Running Bad for My Body?

running

Many people look forward to this time of year due to the high number of running and walking races across the Des Moines area, including the IMT Des Moines Marathon that was a few weeks ago.  Running is a common form of exercise chosen by people that want to increase their fitness abilities. Programs like Couch to 5k have encouraged millions of Americans to get off the couch, lace up some running shoes, and hit the pavement toward better health.

However, running is also a very common source of sports related injury in this country.  Injuries to the foot/ankle, knee, hip, and low back can often sideline a runner for weeks, while delaying them from reaching their fitness and weight loss goals. We have seen this far too often when taking care of runners with chronic injuries.

Many times, the problem isn’t the sport itself, but the specific technique used while running.  Improper running form from poor running posture or repetitive heel striking are the most common culprits. Over the course of dozens of miles, heel striking can jar all of the joints of the lower extremity causing the spine to shift out of place. Of course, once the spine shifts out of place, then secondary conditions will inevitably result.

midfoot-strike-running-7810

Keep these steps in mind to help safeguard against structural breakdown while running.

So how can you make running safe?

  1. Change your form. The 4 steps above are a good start, but for personalized instruction, go to a local running store like Fleet Feet Sports or Fitness Sports. These establishments often have great classes and resources on proper running form.
  2. Evaluate your footwear. If you’re wearing the wrong shoes, then you will continue to get injured. The local running stores noted above have experts ready to fit you for the right shoe for your specific foot.
  3. Get checked for any underlying structural shifts that may be causing weak running posture, altered gait, and reducing your body’s ability to heal and repair.  It is hard to achieve proper form and be evaluated for proper footwear without first having a structurally sound foundation.

Don’t let injury slow you down from achieving your goals. Run safe!

 

 

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

What’s that Hump Behind My Neck? Can I Get Rid of it?

8566487_f260

Have you noticed a squishy bump on the back of the neck of yourself or a loved one and wondered what it was?  One of the most common postural deformities for women (and sometimes men, too) is seen on the image to the left; the small little hump at the point where the neck meets the upper back. Most women feel like this hump makes them appear heavier and older, and look for ways to conceal it.  It is a common feature in women as they age, so it naturally creates a sense of insecurity about one’s age when it appears.

So, what where did this hump come from? Is it from aging? Is it a hormone problem? Can you get rid of it?

Dowager’s Hump

The rounding of the upper part of the spine is commonly referred to as a Dowager’s Hump.  In medical terms it is called hyperkyphosis. Both terms describe a pronounced rounding of the spine near the head and neck.  Not all rounding is bad.  The upper back is supposed to have a slight rounded appearance.  In the more pronounced cases, there is extra curving is this area of the spine. This extra rounding is often accompanied by a small pad of fat on top of the hump.

A Dowager’s Hump can be caused by postural distortion and muscular imbalances affecting the neck, chest, and upper back.aging-posture-300x168

How Does This Happen?

If the rounding is NOT related to spinal fractures, osteoporosis, or hormonal issues like Cushing’s Syndrome then you are dealing with a problem that is primarily posture related.

Common posture-related causes include:

  1. Long hours in front of a computer and/or a mobile device.
  2. Frequently carrying children around.
  3. Muscular imbalances in the upper body.
  4. Structural Shifts of the spine, specifically Anterior Head Syndrome. 

Can it be Fixed?

Any type of humping related to a deformity in the spine like a fracture, severe scoliosis, or congenital malformation is not changeable.  You cannot change the shape of anatomy that has been broken or misshapen.

However, if the humping is related to posture, then there are options for improvement.

– Postural corrective exercises can be performed to address weak musculature.

– Massage therapy can be performed to address a component of muscular imbalances related to upper cross syndrome.

– Fat pad removal which is performed by plastic surgeons to remove the fatty pad on the back of a hump.

The above steps can help reduce the superficial effects of a Dowager’s Hump.

However, it is important to understand that there is a Structural issue stemming from this phenomenon. The reason most people who have this humping are older is because a shifting of the spine can advance the age of your spine through degeneration.

One of the most important conditions to address in people with a Dowager’s Hump is Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS).  AHS is when the head shifts forward in front of the chest.  This creates slumped or rounded shoulders, collapsed chest posture, which can result in a variety of secondary problems like neck and arm pain, headaches, numbness and tingling.

Anterior Head Syndrome

Anterior Head Syndrome is a common cause of Dowager’s Hump

Over time, if this issue isn’t addressed, the joints of the neck stop moving smoothly and lock the head in that forward position. When the forward shifting of the head is corrected, the rest of the spine will often shift back into a normal position again and reduce the rounding automatically.

Reducing AHS can decrease the appearance of Dowager’s.  More importantly, it can help decrease the likelihood you or a loved one suffers from secondary conditions as a result of AHS. If you’re serious about addressing this issue, then don’t let your fix be purely cosmetic in nature.

Did you like this article? Feel free to share it with the people you care about and see if a Complimentary Consultation is the next step to regain their health.

For Americans, Everyday is Halloween

Halloween, and Beggars’ Night in Des Moines, are coming up at the end of the week which may rhalloween-151422_1280 (1)aise concerns over children and their sugar intake from candy.  That’s largely understandable, and it is not unusual for children to finish the evening with several pounds of candy in tow.  All the press that surrounds sugar and candy intake at Halloween time seems odd, though, in light of how much sugar the average American eats the other 364 days of the year.

Some experts estimate that the average American consumes 350 to 440 calories of added sugars – the equivalent of 22 to 26 teaspoons – every day (a mere 6 teaspoons is recommended).  It’s not just from candy, pop, cookies, or other sweets either.  It is hiding in many processed foods like ketchup, yogurt, bread, and reduced or fat free dressings.

Many healthcare professionals agree that it’s contributing to our society’s weight gain, high blood-sugar levels, and record high diabetes rates.  What’s more, according to recent research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a sugar-filled diet can increase you risk of death by heart disease – even if you aren’t overweight.  Eating significant amounts of sugar from any source (table sugar, honey, orange juice, etc.) can compromise your immune system’s ability to fight viruses, bacteria, and parasites.  A 2015 study from the USDA Agricultural Research Service found that excess amounts of honey, table sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup all have similar effects on the body.  Some research has even linked high sugar intake to cancer.

You may be thinking that artificial sweeteners could be a safer option, right? Well, not so fast.

Are Zero-Calorie Sweeteners Any Better?

One of the most common problems we see in our patients is related to toxicity from sugar substitutes like Splenda, Sweet & Low, and Equal.  While all of these products have been FDA approved for safe consumption by the general public, many people have sensitivities in their chemical makeup.

The metabolic products of aspartame, the sweetener in Equal, have been known to overexcite neurons in the brain contributing to headaches, insomnia, and seizure disorders.  Sucralose, found in Splenda, has been shown to alter hormone production in women.  These chemical changes have also been known to cause digestion difficulties in people as well.  Combine this with structural abnormalities in the spine and an abnormal functioning nervous system and it can be a recipe for disaster.

We’ve seen many patients where the only change recommended was for them to stop using artificial sweeteners in their coffee, and to stop drinking diet soft drinks and their body responded immediately.  The big thing to remember is that just because something may not cause symptoms in most people, does not make it healthy to consume.

Although there are no calories from sugar substitutes, more research is showing that artificial sweeteners can play tricks on your body, causing it to over respond to signals from your taste buds, in many cases leading to weight gain.

Neither excess sugar nor zero-calorie sweeteners provide any form of positive health effects.  Certainly, a treat once in a while won’t derail your health, but the ultimate way to lose weight and improve your health is to look to natural foods like raw fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.

 

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

Avoid an Energy Crisis

One of the most common problems that people talk about is lack of energy.  If you’re reading this right now, you may be in the midst of a mid-afternoon crash, and looking fofatiguer some stimulation to keep your energy and focus up.

The “energy crisis” problem has become so widespread that energy drinks such as 5 Hour Energy®, Red Bull®, Monster®, and the like, have become a massive 9 billion dollar industry!

So, what’s the deal?  Why are so many people running on fumes in terms of energy?

Are we not sleeping enough?

Are we working too hard?

Do we all have a caffeine deficiency?

If you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense that people inherently need a pick-me-up during the middle of the day.  Quick fixes like energy drinks and heaps of coffee exist, but you may be looking for a long term strategy that can help create a higher energetic state without the detrimental effects.

4 Steps to Sustainable Energy

1. Start the Morning Fresh

There’s a lot of debate about how much sleep the average adult needs.  The truth is, everyone operates well with varying amounts.  The most important factors are consistency of sleeping times and the timing of your wake cycle.

There are a variety of sleep tracking apps and wearable devices on the market.  An app that you may find useful is Sleep Cycle.  It allows you to place your phone under your sheets and it senses how much you move during the night.  You set an alarm with a 30 minute window to wake you up.  Using these criteria, the application will sound the alarm during your lightest period of sleep.

The end result is waking up at a time when you will feel refreshed, even if it means waking up a little earlier than your set alarm time.  Using an inexpensive application like this can make early mornings seem MUCH more bearable.

2. Get the Right Fuel

We won’t go into too much depth today on fueling your body.  Keep an eye out for our December Keystone Update in your inbox that will discuss this more in depth.  In terms of fueling your body with food for lasting energy, keep in a mind a few things:

A. Avoid Processed Carbohydrates and Refined Sugar

Processed grains, which lack fiber and nutrients, and refined sugar both get digested and absorbed quickly, which can wreak havoc with your blood sugar and energy levels.  Ditch sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, and lemonade and stick with carbohydrates from whole foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats.

B. Avoid Carbohydrate-Only Meals

Carbs are the most efficient source of fuel for every cell in your body, which is probably why they’re so abundant in nature, and why they get digested and absorbed pretty quickly.  But if you’re looking for sustained energy over a longer period of time, combine carbs like fruit and grains with lean protein and good fats.  That means steady rise in blood sugar and better insulin control, so your cells will receive even, time-released fuel (read: energy) over a longer period of time.

C. Eat the Rainbow

…And NO, we’re not talking about Skittles®.

Eating a wider variety of foods exposes your body to a broader spectrum of antioxidants and nutrients, which means better overall nourishment and energy.  Expand your variety by aiming for five different colored fruits and veggies every day (blue, green, orange, red, white) and use a variety of antioxidant rich herbs and spices to season your food (basil, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, etc.).  Ensuring your body is getting both the macro nutrients (fat, carbs, protein) and micro nutrients (vitamins & minerals) it needs helps optimize energy through food.

3. Get Moving

It doesn’t have to be extreme, especially if you currently do little to no exercise.  Our bodies are built to move.  It doesn’t have to be a full hour workout or running miles at a time, but movement will help keep your brain oxygenated and alert.

A good recommendation is to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.  Can’t fit 30 consecutive minutes in?  Break it up into manageable increments throughout the day for a quick energy boost.  It may be 15 minutes of yoga before you get in the shower or squeezing in a 10 minute walk at lunch time.  Or, if you’re a pretty fast runner, why not knock out a quick mile?

4. Ensure Your Nervous System is Unobstructed

You may be asking, what does that have to do with energy?  While there are many causes of low energy, a common one you may not have heard of is abnormal nervous system function.  Energy and messages flow between your brain and the rest of you body through your nerves.  Structural imbalances in the spine can obstruct the flow of these messages, which can lead to secondary problems like fatigue.

If you haven’t had your spine checked for structural abnormalities, it may be time, as this could be a contributing factor to your “energy crisis.”

Here’s the deal, if you have to stare at a clock and fight that miserable feeling of fatigue every…single…day, does it make sense to make a few changes to improve your life?  The choice is yours.

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

Do You Spend More Time Shopping for a Car…Than You Do for Your Doctor?

We are asked a variety of questions by patients, family, and friends.  Common ones include, “What treatment works?  Does acupuncture work?  How about massage therapy?  What about physical therapy?  Would conventional chiropractic help?  Maybe surgery is the best thing?”  Of course, the number one inquiry of Keystone Chiropractic is if Neuro-Structural Chiropractic works.

Choose the Provider NOT the Treatment

Not all forms of treatment or care will work for everyone 100% of the time.  Whether you favor one therapy or another, a more important consideration is the quality of the practitioner.  The intelligence and ethical responsibility of the healthcare professionals is paramount in delivering quality care.  Are they honest?  Do they care about your needs?  How are they at honing their skills?

Through our experiences not only as patients, but also as professionals, we’ve encountered brilliant medical doctors, highly skilled nurses, and exceptional physical therapists.  Some do great work, while others just seemed like they didn’t care, and it reflected in the work that they did.  There are good and bad apples in every profession, including chiropractic.

quality-500963_1920The quality of the healthcare provider is not the only thing that matters – it’s just the MOST important!  Unfortunately, finding the right fit of someone that delivers their best, with a good heart and brain, can be a challenging task.  As a prospective patient looking for help, word-of-mouth or a referral from another credible provider, family member, or friend could be a starting point.

If you are still getting caught up in deciding whether one treatment or type of care would suit you better than another, you should probably stop there.  Instead seek out a quality provider, because that person will direct you down the road you need to be on (even if it’s not with them).  That’s one of the huge differences between mediocre and great doctors.

What to look for…

As uncomfortable as it is, YOU need to empower yourself to inform the healthcare provider that you are just “checking them out.”  Many offices offer a complimentary consultation for this purpose.  Similar to buying a home or a car, it’s important to do your due diligence when selecting a healthcare professional.  Here is what we recommend you “check out.”

  1. Are they willing to LISTEN to you and your health concerns?
  2. Are they UPFRONT about what they do?
  3. Are they TRANSPARENT about cost, length of treatment, and requirements – all before an examination occurs?
  4. Do the TELL you as a perspective patient that you might not be a candidate for their care (and assure you that you’ll be directed to the right provider)?
  5. Do they provide you with OPTIONS that are outside of they care they offer?
  6. Will they be there as a health RESOURCE even if you don’t become their patient?

As healthcare providers, we urge you to find professionals that are compassionate, knowledgeable, and honest.  It might not be easy, but it certainly is worth it to have a team of quality practitioners on your side.

 

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

“The 3 P’s” for a Normal Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a major event in any woman’s life.  Whether it is her first or fifth,  it is important to ensure that normal structure of her spine is maintained to diminish the chances of secondary issues arising throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  One of the secondary problems that women may face is dystocia, or a difficult or abnormal labor.

When defining dystocia, Williams Obstetrics says, “Dystocia is very complex, and although ‘abnormal progress in labor’ seems simple, there is no consensus as to what ‘abnormal progress’ means.  Thus, it seems prudent to attempt a better understanding of normal labor in order to determine departures from normal.”  At Keystone Chiropractic, through Neuro-Structural Correction, it is our goal to restore normal spinal structure and allow all other processes to function normally.

Certainly, a number of factors can contribute to a difficult pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  Let’s take a look at “The 3 P’s,” and their effects on labor.

  1. The first “P” is Power; the ability of the uterus during labor and delivery to push the baby out.  Sometimes there may be insufficient contractions, or perhaps inappropriately coordinated dilation of the cervix.  In later stages of labor, there may be decreased voluntary muscle control.  It is important to understand that the uterus is, in large part, a muscle.  It requires a proper nerve supply to control and coordinate its functions.  If there is a structural shift in the low back, it very well could be obstructing the nerves which travel to the uterus and pregnant-361582_1280affecting the Power.
  2. The second “P” is Passage; in other words, the bony pelvis through which the baby will pass during delivery, but also where it resides throughout pregnancy.  When there is an abnormal shift within the pelvis, abhorrent motion of the pelvic joints begins to occur.  During pregnancy this can have secondary effects for the mother which can include things like increased discomfort and constraint on the uterus.  As labor and delivery approach, the structural shift and lack of motion can actually lead to a decreased space for the baby to pass through, making for a more difficult delivery.
  3. The last “P” is Passenger; or the baby.  If the mother has a structural shift, it may be obstructing the nerve supply which helps control development of the baby during pregnancy.  When labor and delivery are approaching, pelvic shifts, and the improper motion and decreased space, which can result, may prevent the fetus from positioning itself properly for delivery.  It is vital that the child, as it’s developing, receives the proper messages from the mother’s nervous system.

Throughout pregnancy, there are many physical and hormonal changes which may contribute to an increased possibility that the spine shifts from its normal position.  These structural shifts may lead to obstruction of the nerves traveling to the uterus, abnormal pelvic motion, and decreased messages being sent to the developing baby.  The goal of Neuro-Structural Correction is to restore these structural shifts to their normal position, using specific adjustments, and removing nerve obstruction to the uterus, regaining normal movement in the pelvis, and ensuring the proper messages are getting to the baby.

Normal Power and proper motion of the Passage are vital to a normal pregnancy and delivery.  It is also important that you, as the mother, are doing everything possible for the Passenger to ensure proper development during pregnancy and that the child is given the best chance to put themselves in the proper position for delivery.

You may also want to check out www.icpa4kids.com for more information.

 

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

Top 5 Foods to Boost Brain Power

You may have noticed that brain health makes its way into the news now and again, especially as it relates to things like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and overall cognitive function.  Why is it a big deal?  In short, your brain is your most valuable health asset.  The brain and nervous system work together to control and coordinate every function in your body.

At Keystone Chiropractic, we take brain and nervous system function very seriously.  There are a number of things you can do to optimize your brain health, but today’s post will address foods you can add to your grocery list to help your brain and nervous system work the best they can.  Are there more than 5 foods that help brain health?  You bet.  Today we’ll outline the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

First, we must mention that the best place to start is to eat more unprocessed whole foods.  Real foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and countless other phytochemicals that nourish your brain cells (and even grow new ones).

When choosing your foods, remember that it’s not only a matter of how many calories they contain and whether or not they might make you “fat”- it’s a matter of choosing those that contain the nutrients to support optimal health, including that of your brain.

The 5 best foods for optimal brain and nervous system health

1. Wild Alaskan Salmonsalmon-518032_1280

You may have read that Omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in Wild Alaskan Salmon, are great for cardiovascular health.  Omega 3’s are great for your brain, too.  As you age, or due to diseases like Alzheimer’s, your brain volume decreases.  Recent research published in Neurology suggests that Omega 3’s may slow this process.

The study, which included over 1,000 women, measured the levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.  The results showed that those with higher levels of EPA and DHA in their blood had larger total brain volumes according to an MRI scan.

Those with higher Omega 3’s also had a nearly 3 percent larger hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory.  Even before symptoms appear, in diseases like Alzheimer’s, the hippocampus has most likely begun to shrink in volume.

Higher levels of EPA and DHA can be achieved through both diet and supplementation.  The best sources of these Omega 3 fatty acids are fatty fish such as Wild Alaskan Salmon.  Supplements are also an option, and while getting Omega-3’s through diet is preferred, many Americans are deficient, so a high quality supplement may be needed.

2. Eggs

Eggs, more specifically the yolks, are a leading source of choline.  Choline is a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in helping you remember things like where you left the car keys.  Eating protein rich foods like eggs for breakfast can improve overall cognitive performance, according to Swiss researchers.

blueberries-690072_12803. Blueberries

Flavonoids are found in foods like blueberries, apples, citrus fruits, green tea, and in cocoa.  Flavonoids take part in multiple cellular processes, depending on the type of flavonoid.  They can also be responsible for may aspects of brain function.  They do this by influencing how neurons “talk” to each other and by increasing the levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce damage to cells in the brain.  There is also some evidence that flavanoids can stave off not only cognitive decline, but also brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

4. Curcumin

One nutrient that you may not be so familiar with is the spice, curcumin.  Even if you have never heard of it, it is likely that you have tasted it.  Curcumin is from the root of the tumeric plant; it gives curry its yellow color.

Animal studies have shown that it actually clears away Alzheimer’s-causing proteins in the brain called amyloid plaques.

You can add some curcumin – tumeric – to your own cooking to get a dose of this powerful polyphenol.  It seems that some of the most interesting foods and flavors contain some of the most potent brain-boosting molecules.

5. Leafy greens & Cruciferous vegetables

You may not be fond of eating your greens, but there’s a reason why you hear over and over that they’re one of the best things to add to your diet.  Harvard Medical School researchers found that women who ate the most vegetables – especially leafy green vegetables (spinach and romaine lettuce) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) – experienced a slower rate of cognitive decline than women who ate the least vegetables.

**BONUS**

Water

This one shouldn’t be a big surprise.  Every cell in your body needs what to thrive, and your brain cells are not exception.  Approximately three-quarters of your brain is water.  A small Ohio University study found that people whose bodies were well hydrated scored significantly better on tests of brain power, compared with those who weren’t drinking enough.  Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces ever day.  For example, if someone weighs 150 lbs, they should get 75 ounces of water.

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

 

Combating Chronic Inflammation

As people age, they are not only looking to live longer, but better as well, and that includes avoiding the effects of chronic inflammation.  Inflammation treatment is a big industry because of that.  There is a long list of medications, supplements, and salves aimed at managing chronic inflammation, and the number of advertisements for anti-inflammatory products is even greater.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to things such as injury, infection, exposure to toxins, and biomechanical dysfunction.  It involves a cascade of events, coordinated by the nervous system, which includes increased blood flow to the site of injury, local temperature increase, redness and swelling.  The additional fluids can also increase the pressure on nerve endings in the area, resulting in pain.

b2ap3_thumbnail_inflammatoryShort term or acute inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process and, in most cases, should not be reduced.  It is NORMAL.

Long term or chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can lead to serious health problems.  As the picture to the left illustrates, it can contribute to Type II diabetes, joint degeneration, heart disease, and even cancer, among other things.  Often times, it is the result of life style choices, and other environmental influences.

There are some easy steps you can take to reduce and prevent chronic inflammation.

  • Getting the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fats.  Most Americans consume too much omega-6.  Reduce the amount of cooking oils you consume, especially those that contain corn.  Eat grass-fed met over grain fed and choose cold-water fish such as Wild caught Alaskan Salmon.  Adults should aim for a omega-6:omega-3 ratio of about 2:1.
  • Avoid trans-fats.  It’s as simple as that.  But, be careful to read the ingredients.  The nutritional label may read 0 grams of trans fat, but make sure to look for “partially hydrogenated” oils.
  • Limit refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, high fructose corn syrup and refined sugars
  • Maintain a healthy weight.  The more fat you carry, the more inflammatory chemicals you produce.
  • Increase you intake of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, D, and E.
  • Have your spine checked for structural shifts.  Chronic inflammation may be a secondary condition of a structural shift of your spine.  The structural shift blocks your nerves from functioning correctly and from properly controlling the inflammation process.  Neuro-Structural Chiropractic restores your spine to its normal position reducing the obstruction to your nervous system, which allows inflammation be more appropriately coordinated.

 

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

If It’s Happening in Pro Sports, It’s Happening in Your Child’s School, Too.

Fall is here and the fall sports season is well underway around the Des Moines metro.  Unfortunately, along the spectrum from young to professional atheletes, comes the risk of concussion.  Each year, nearly 2 million traumatic brain injuries occur, 75% of which are concussions.  Approximately 300,000 of those are sports related, in large part, due to football.

But, let’s not blame football for all of them.  A spike to the head in volleyball, or perhaps a fall from the monkey bars, injuring the neck and/or head can certainly be responsible for a concussion

Now, concussions in professional sports are always in the news.  So, it’s safe to say that if it’s happening in professional sports, it’s happening in  your child’s school, too.  The good thing about being a pro-athlete, such as an NFL player, is the access to some of the greatest concussion care available.  The NFL and other leagues are highly invested in the safety of their players because:

  1. They want to avoid lawsuits down the road, and
  2. They want to make sure the athletes have the best care for a safe and quick return to play.

Even in the NFL, though, there is no helmet standard.  Regardless, NO helmet is capable of preventing the brain from shifting around within the skull during a collision.  It is the movement that can cause damage to the brain and central nervous system, leading to concussion.

Your child may not have immediate access to such great care.  If you have a child is sports, or who is injured on the playground, you should be aware of these symptoms associated with concussion:

  • Brief loss ofkids-56952_1280 consciousness
  • Memory problems and confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Headaches (with or without vomiting)
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Problems with balance
  • Slow reaction time
  • Fatigue

If you know your child took some hard hits during the game, or begins to show any of the above signs as the season wears on, it would be prudent to have him or her evaluated by a qualified professional as soon as possible.

What may surprise you is that head injuries and structural abnormalities of the neck are closely linked.  The potential damage to the brain is often the sole focus, and the potential injury to the cervical spine (neck) is often overlooked.  Stay tuned for a future blog post that illustrates how concussions can lead to injury and structural issues in the cervical spine.

 

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

Is it Necessary to Have X-rays of My Spine?

Many people have concerns about visiting a chiropractic office and the potential exposure to ionizing radiation through spinal x-rays. People are concerned with the cumulative effects of the radiation, particularly after the media and TV icons discuss it.

The GW425H600use of x-ray, even in chiropractic, is mixed.  Some use it to rule out conditions, like fractures, arthritis, and cancer, while others do not use it at all.  We’re not here to argue the pros and cons of x-ray use.  That is not our purpose here to day.

When it comes to Neuro-Structural Chiropractic and examining the mechanics of the spine, we at Keystone Chiropractic use precise Digital Structural Radiography.  These allows us to capture specific images which help identify the specific structural shifts that may exist in your spine.  These structural shifts can create significant problems, even with very small shifts; down to 1mm.  A small displacement of the spine can affect the brain stem, spinal cord, and the nerves that branch from there.  It obstructs the nervous system from properly communicating with, and controlling the body.  The longer a structural shift persists, the greater the chance that secondary conditions  begin to appear.

As Neuro-Structural Chiropractors who focus on restoring your spine toward its normal position, performing an adjustment without the use of x-rays is the same as guessing.  The difference between relief from debilitating migraine headaches for the first time in months, or continuing to battle daily migraines can come down to very small shifts in structure.

What many people don’t understand is that Digital Structural Radiographs will expose you to LESS radiation that dental x-rays and CT scans.  You are even exposefoundationd to more ionizing radiation if you fly across the country, from California to New York.

We would all agree that having a sound foundation of your house is important.  And, it is important that the foundation of your body, your SPINE, is sound as well.  Would you want someone working on your house without first taking precise measurements?  While Neuro-Structural Correction certainly isn’t for everyone, the unique radiographs used in the office help us provide the highest quality of care we can, so YOU can protect your health.

 

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

Your Brain on Sugar

Is sugar addictive?  Can it lead to other problems?

What are the effects of excess sugar on your body? Before we can talk about the health consequences of consuming too much sugar, it’s important to understand why we like sweets and the effect they have on the brain and nervous system.  The alterations in brain chemistry from the consumption of excess sugar begins to tell the story of the potential negative impacts on the rest of the body.

Recent evidence, as brought to light by Glasgow University and in a segment on NBC’s The Today Show, suggests that an addiction to sugar, or “sweet tooth” may begin early on in life as infants are first introduced to foods.  It proposes that, because most store bought baby foods contain either added sugar, or sweeter foods (sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, fruit juice, etc.), children are unable to develop their other tastes, such as bitter.  The report recommended that baby foods be made at home, allowing the parents to control the exact ingredients their children were eating.

This video, from Dr. Nicole Avena, gives us a great synopsis of what happens to the brain when we eat foods containing added sugars.

Keep an eye out for future blogs which will begin to discuss the impacts of sugar on the rest of the body.

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

Sleeping Your Way to Better Health

You’ve likely heard that not getting enough quality sleep can be detrimental to your health.  As a matter of fact, there is quite the price to pay.  Being sleep deprived can impair memory, decrease performance and alertness, lead to depression/anxiety, and decrease immune function, leaving you more susceptible to disease.

If that doesn’t motivate you, maybe the following will.  Research has found that people who get less sleep are much more likely to OVEREAT and put on EXTRA WEIGHT.

While practicing, we’ve taken care of several people that have struggled with sleep issues related to structural abnormalities within the spine.  These issues include sleep apnea, disrupted sleep, and insomnia.  When these people began sleeping well again, their lives and health began to improve in many ways they didn’t expect.

So, how does getting more sleep lead to weight loss?sleeping-time-650684_1280

Sleep isn’t just about having enough energy to get through the day.  When you are sleeping, your body is hard at work repairing and creating new cells.  Your body’s biggest window for healing is the invaluable 8 hours you spend horizontal.  A good night’s sleep lowers your insulin levels, normalizes hormone balance, and slows processes of aging.

When you are sleep deprived, the hormones in your body that regulate your weight and appetite are not functioning the way they should.  When appetite isn’t regulated, you’re more likely to overeat and your body falls into a state of insulin resistance, which puts you on the path toward Type II Diabetes

Ways to Improve Your Sleep
  1. Make Movement a Priority – Almost every study ever done on sleep shows that people who exercise daily are able to fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep.  It doesn’t take much, going for a 20-30 minute walk has this effect.
  2. Monitor your Eating and Drinking – Don’t go to bed hungry, or too full; discomfort might keep you awake.  Caffeine has a stimulating effect which can keep you awake, and alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, but can cause disrupted sleep later in the night.
  3. Create a Room Ideal for Sleeping – This often means cool, dark, and quiet.  Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
  4.  Develop a Nightly Routine – Do the same things each night to tell your body that it’s time to wind down.  This might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music with the lights dimmed.  Limit screen (TV and electronic devices) at least 30 minutes before sleep, as some research suggests that the light emitted from these devices interferes with sleep.
  5. Rule Out Sleep Disorders – Many people that have a sleep disorder don’t know they have it.  If you’re struggling with sleeping problems, a sleep study can be useful in identifying potential disorders that can be treated.  If there are structural abnormalities in you spine leading to sleep-related secondary conditions, it’s critically important that you get checked by  chiropractor focusing on Neuro-Structural Correction.

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

“I’m Just Getting Old”

Achy joints, a twinge in the knee, or even a sharp pain from the shoulder to the elbow?  That’s all part of normal aging, right?

These are complaints that we commonly hear.  You may be surprised to learn that most often this is heard from people in their 40’s and 50’s.  This type of pain is a serious problem for these people because it can affect their livelihood and interaction with family and friends.

All too often, people assume joint pain is a normal part of aging; that we just have to learn to live with it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s delve deeper for a minute.  When most people talk about pain associated with “getting old,” they’re usually referring to a variety of problems that can be thrown under the umbrella of Arthritis.  This type of arthritis is known as osteoarthritis, and doesn’t refer to inflammatory or Rheumatoid arthritis.  Osteoarthritis can be associated with things like: degenerative joint disease, bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, and spinal canal stenosis, to name a few.

Below is a side view x-ray of the neck.

Notice at the arrows, there is decreased space between the bones, and the shape of the bones themselves have changed.

Notice at the arrows, there is decreased space between the bones, and the shape of the bones themselves has changed.

This person is one of those we just talked about, and has had neck pain for the past month.  The red arrows are pointing to areas that have degenerative disc disease and are the result of many years of breakdown.  When seeing this damaged disc on their x-ray, they said, “That’s just because I’m getting old.”

Now, as someone approaches the middle of their life, there’s no question that there will be wear and tear of their spine.  That’s not the issue.  Rather, the extensive amount of damage to their lower neck, is.

Here’s an interesting question, how old are the healthy discs at the top of the neck?

It’s a trick question, because all of the discs are the same age.  So, if this problem was only due to aging, wouldn’t you expect every disc to have similar degeneration?


In the picture above, there are problems with the structure of the person’s spine.  When a structural problem occurs in the neck, a few things can happen.

  • The structure of the spine becomes distorted and speeds the wear and tear of the joints.  What happens to your car when the frame of it has shifted?  Would you expect the steering wheel to pull to one side or one of the tires to wear faster than the others?  This same concept happens to the joints in the spine!
  • The shift in the structure of the spine will hinder signals traveling to and from the brain.  This decrease in information from the brain to the rest of the body can cause dysfunction in the nervous system and will ultimately lead to secondary problems.

So, this person has had this problem in their spine for many years, but did not show any signs of neck pain until last month.  How is that possible?

Structural issues in the spine are often left undiagnosed for several years.  Research shows that many of us have herniated discs in the spine, but 60% will feel no pain or symptoms.  So, a problem that should be of great concern, may be decreasing the function of your body without you knowing it.

These problems are almost always preventable.  There are things you can do to reduce the amount of wear and tear on the spine and maintain full function of the body’s control and coordinating system, the nervous system:

  • Lose weight: if you are overweight, the first step is to shed the excess pounds
  • Exercise: walking, biking, weight lifting, jogging, or any activity that improves strength, endurance, and range of motion
  • If you smoke, QUIT: research has shown that smoking has an effect on bone health

You likely have your blood pressure, cholesterol, eyes, and of course your teeth checked to maintain optimal health.    Structural abnormalities which lead to breakdown of the joints in your spine can only be detected and corrected by a doctor who focuses on Neuro-Structural Correction.  Routine checks of your spine for structural abnormalities are critical to reducing your risk of arthritis and a variety of secondary problems.

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

Damaged Nerves and Backpacks

Can you believe it? School is right around the corner.  Each year millions of children walk to, from, and around school carrying backpacks filled with books and other materials.

Parents, are you aware that your child’s heavy backpack could be damaging their nerves, muscles, and skeleton?

The direct pressure of a heavy backpack alone, can lead to nerve irritation and impingement. It may also cause muscular and ligament injury, and shifts in skeletal structure.

Using a backpack allows a child to carry a number of schoolbooks and items in a practical way, distributing the heavy load across the back and shoulders.  The risk over time is overload, which can lead to structural shifts of the spine that can ultimately cause secondary problems.  Common secondary conditions that may develop are: postural distortions, muscle spasm, headaches, low back pain, neck and arm pain, and shoulder pain.

You can use the following recommendations to reduce the chance of your child suffering from these secondary problems:

  • Look for a bag with two padded (2-inch wide) adjustable shoulder straps that also has a padded back
  • There should be a hip strap or waist belt to redistribute the weight of the bag from the shoulders and back to the pelvis
  • Wheels are a handy accessory, allowing a backpack to be pulled instead of carried
  • Always use both shoulder straps and wear the backpack on the back rather than over one shoulder
  • Pack the heaviest objects in the bag first, so they are carried lower and closest to the bodybackpack
  • Adjust the straps to fit the backpack snug to the child’s body, holding the bottom of the backpack two inches above the waist and keeping the top just below the base of the skull; do not carry the bag low near the buttocks
  • Limit the weight of the backpack to between 10-15% of your child’s body weight
  • Coach your child to carry only the items needed in their bag, leaving unnecessary items at home or making a few trips to their locker during the day

While following the above recommendations may lead to a decreased risk of secondary issues, the use of a backpack, even properly, could still cause structural abnormalities in your child’s spine. It remains critically important to have your child’s spine examined for structural shifts.  Only a doctor who focuses on Neuro-Structural Correction can assess and correct these shifts, allowing the body to function optimally.

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.

Why Keystone Chiropractic?

One of the most common questions we get is, “Why did you choose the name Keystone Chiropractic?”

Our focus is on an area of Chiropractic called Neuro-Structural Correction, and we view the body as an amazing feat of engineering.  Every part has a specific function and proper place.  When everything is in the right place at the right time, the body performs optimally.  When there is an abnormality within the structure of the body, secondary problems are likely to occur.

At Keystone Chiropractic, it is our primary job to correct and maintain the structural foundation of the entire body; the spine.

Keystone
An arch is one of the strongest and most stable structures in architecture.  Each stone supports the load while evenly transferring it to the foundation.  As you can see in the image above, the two sides coming together rely on the keystone (in red) to connect and maintain proper structure.  What would you expect if the keystone were shifted slightly to the left or right?  Would there be an increased load on on side?  Could that lead to increased wear, instability, or perhaps cracked stones?

If your health were an arch, the stones would be things such as proper diet, exercise, and rest.  The keystone holding everything together would be proper structural alignment of your spine and an optimally functioning nervous system.

While eating right, getting proper sleep, and exercising are certainly necessary, as are all of the stones of an arch, normal spinal structure and a properly functioning nervous system are the keystone which keep everything locked in place.  Without normal structure, you can expect secondary problems to occur.

At Keystone Chiropractic we focus on Neuro-Structural Correction; locating structural shifts within your spine, restoring them to normal using specific adjustments, allowing your nervous system and body to function at their best.

 

 

Did you like this article?  Feel free to share it with the people you care about, and sign up to receive Updates from Keystone Chiropractic.  It may just be the next step in regaining your health.