Total Snooze Fest: 5 Changes to Help You Sleep Your Best

Snooze fest

Maybe you think talking about sleep is a Total Snooze Fest. However, it’s vitally important to optimizing immune system function and helping block potential illness. There are numerous things keeping us up at night, but a poorly designed bedroom shouldn’t be one of them. Make this simple changes to turn your sleep space into a nighttime oasis.

Building Your Sleep Cave…

1 – Block the Light

Your sleep cycle is highly dependent on light, both artificial and natural. Stay away from screens and their stimulating blue light for at least an hour before bed. Keep the TV off as you sleep, too. If you insist on screen time before bed, at least consider blue light blocking glasses.

Wearing an eye mask and light blocking curtains are options for keeping your bedroom dark. This helps block excessive light from outside. Exposure to light can confuse our brains into thinking it’s daytime, and not time to sleep.

2 – Drown out Noise

Do you think you’re used to the sound of traffic driving by your window? Even if you do, it’s likely it’s keeping you from achieving deep sleep. Earplugs can block out the noise, but white noise machines go a step further. Instead of cars whizzing by, they sub in soothing sounds which actually facilitate sleep. If you’re on a budget, a well-placed fan will do the trick.

3 – Eliminate Allergens

Your sleep quality is affected by things like pollen, dust, pet dander, and mold. Wash linens in hot water and keep your pets off the bed to mitigate some issues. Further, use protective covers on your pillows and mattress as a defense against dust mites.

For a more powerful solution, invest in an air purifier, along with a humidifier (or dehumidifier depending on your needs). Just remember to change the filters regularly and seek quieter models.

4 – Correct the Temperature

Our bodies are evolutionarily primed for sleep by lower environmental temperatures. The National Sleep Foundation recommends having the thermostat set between 60-67 degrees. Cooler temps help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get the rest vital for healing and an optimized immune system.

Hot sleepers can try cooling, moisture wicking bedding made of natural fibers. If you still have trouble, take a warm bath or shower before bed. This causes your body’s temperature to fall a bit quicker, signaling sleep. Another tip is to add an extra blanket at the end of the bed. Warm feet tell the brain it’s bedtime.

5 – Invest in a Supportive Mattress and Pillow

We spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping. Doesn’t it make sense to sleep on something that will properly support you (and your spine)? Evidence suggests that poor sleep can negatively affect your health. If your mattress is developing the “trough” appearance, it’s time for a new one. You should also select a pillow which is supportive for your head and neck. Please reach out for additional help on choosing the right pillow.

Hopefully, these strategies will truly make your night a Snooze Fest. Quality sleep is extremely important for blocking infections and having optimal immune system function.

Keeping Health Simple During These Trying Times

Optimizing Immune System Function to Help Block the Coronavirus

Keeping Health Simple

Keeping health simple during these trying times can seem, well, not so simple. If you spend any time watching the news, reading the paper, or scrolling social media, it’s coronavirus this, COVID-19 that. And, who’s information is reliable? We’re expected to sort through that, too?

Over the past couple of weeks at Keystone Chiropractic, we’ve realized that one of the best ways to optimize your body and block the coronavirus (or any other germs, for that matter) is to focus on what you can control. Previously in blog and video format, we’ve discussed our Health Made Simple series. With those 4 KEY requirements in mind, below we’ll discuss strategies to optimize immune system function.

EAT

Eat Healthy Foods

This can’t be understated! Eating real food is key to getting the nutrients and energy the body needs. Using these quality raw materials, your immune and nervous systems can function at optimal levels.

Vitamin D3

Along with eating real foods, it may be necessary to supplement Vitamin D3. This helps keep your immune system tuned and sharp. While it’s best to get Vitamin D3 through sunlight exposure, supplementation is still often needed.

Reduce Sugar Consumption

Excessive sugar consumption, especially added sugar in processed foods leads to widespread, chronic inflammation. This heavily stresses the immune system, and makes it ill equipped to respond to any invaders.

Avoid Alcohol

While the alcohol in hand sanitizer may help kill viruses and bacteria, drinking alcohol will not. Alcohol often reduces quality sleep. It’s during sleep when our body heals the most. Reducing alcohol consumption can improve sleep and help optimize immune response.

Drink Lots of Water

Staying well hydrated is crucial for optimal immune function. It also helps in keeping things moving through your digestive system. It’s key that you get at least half of your body weight in ounces each day (i.e. if you weigh 150 lbs, drink at least 75 ounces of water per day).

MOVE

Get Plenty of Exercise

Exercising is known to help the immune system block invaders. Walking 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, has been shown to ward off sickness, and reduce symptoms if you happen to become ill. Exercise also lowers stress, improves blood flow, and helps with sleep, which are all important to optimal immune function.

RECHARGE

Adapt to Stress

I often think it’s silly to say “get rid of the stress in your life.” Let’s be real, that’s not happening. Instead, incorporate things like prayer, meditation, yoga, or a gratitude journal, into each day. These are activities which have been shown to reduce the harmful effects of chronic stress, and in turn, increase immunity.

Get Sleep

This is the time when your nervous system and immune system are at peak activity. Sleep is when your body takes time to heal. Cutting yourself short or sleeping poorly deprives your body of this critical time. Look to previous blogs on specific tips for improving sleep. You should shoot for at least 6-8 hours every night.

Brain-Body Connection

NeuroStructural Chiropractic Care

Ultimately, optimal immune system function and its ability to mount a defense, is tied to our body’s ability to adapt to internal and external challenges. How we adapt is controlled by nervous system function.

As a NeuroStructural Chiropractic office, our goal is to work with patients to ensure a well connected nervous system free from any obstructions. We do so because the nervous system controls and coordinates everything in the body, including the immune system.

Obstructions can occur when the spine shifts from its normal position. If this happens, it creates disconnect and less efficiency. At Keystone Chiropractic, we restore the spine toward normal. This optimizes communication between the nervous system and body, including the immune system.

Will NeuroStructural Chiropractic Care, by itself, prevent illness like COVID-19? No. But it is part of optimizing your immune system to block any virus.

Things may be chaotic right now. The coronavirus and news surrounding it is like little we’ve experienced before. Our office is a place of health, healing, and support. We encourage you to stay calm, don’t panic, but concern yourself with the things over which you have control. Social distancing, hand washing, and the strategies above for keeping health simple are a great place to start.

Top Exercises Everyone Should Consider

Top Exercises Everyone Should Consider

At Keystone Chiropractic, we strive to help you achieve the best results possible. Part of that includes providing exercises which aid in, or complement, the corrective process.

Below are the Top 4 exercises that nearly everyone should consider doing.

Planks/Dead Bugs

In general, we can all use a bit of work with our core strength. Often, especially if you’re seated most of the day, abdominal and postural muscles aren’t activated. A weakened core can lead to decreased efficiency while working out and back discomfort. It also leads to instability in the lower spine and pelvis. While planks and dead bugs may not give you six-pack abs, they will reinforce this area of the body.

Core strength is vital to protecting the correction of the lower spine and pelvis. Planks and dead bugs are designed to work on the abdominal muscles in the front and postural muscles of your low back. This develops a “belt” of muscle around your mid-section to help stabilize the foundation of your spine.

Psoas (Hip Flexor) Stretch

A chronically shortened or flexed psoas is another consequence of being seated most of the day. This is a large muscle running from the bottom of your mid back to your pelvis and is responsible for bringing your knee toward your chest.

Because of its direct attachment to the spine, a shortened hip flexor can have detrimental effects to the structure of the spine. It can also cause a variety of discomforts, including low or mid back soreness, hip pain, and may even result in some knee pain. Performing this stretch can help combat the effects of being seated and static most of the day.

Chin Tucks (Anterior Head Exercise)

Everyday activities are predominately causing us to lean forward and look downward. Whether that comes from using a computer, staring at our cell phones, or working with a client, we spend a lot of time in that position. Gradually, this leads to imbalanced muscles on the front and back of the neck, a loss of the normal neck curve, and structural abnormalities of the upper spine.

This exercise strengthens the anterior and posterior (front and back) neck muscles. Over time, chin tucks support the correction of structural shifts in the upper spine and the stability of a Normal c-shaped cervical curve.

Pectoral Stretch

You are looking forward and down most of the day. Often, this causes a rounding of the shoulders, and ultimately chronically shortened pectoralis, or chest, muscles.

Tight pecs tend to exacerbate the anterior (forward) shift of the head and straightening of the neck. As a result, it’s important to gently stretch these muscles, opening up the chest, and reducing the forward pull of the pecs.

**It’s important to note that these exercise are complementary to Corrective Chiropractic Care. These alone will not resolve any underlying structural issues.

If any of these exercises exacerbate your current condition, please do not perform and ask your Structural Chiropractor for modifications.

If you have questions about performance, we are happy to provide you instruction on these, as well as other exercises. They are part of our complementary recommendations during your corrective care at Keystone Chiropractic**

Boost Your Run with Structural Chiropractic

Looking to Boost Your Run or recover from a running injury? Structural Chiropractic should be part of the solution.

Boost your run with help from the Preferred Partners mentioned in this video. Follow the links below to check out their businesses.

Heartland Soles

Fleet Feet

Expedition Wellness

The NeuroStructural Process

The NeuroStructural Process outlines the operations of Keystone Chiropractic. In our office, we take time to understand your concerns and share with you what you can expect. Following a comprehensive, objective examination, we are able to detail the need for corrective care and develop a personalized recommendation. Check out Our Process to read more!

NeuroStructural Correction process BlogCast

RECHARGE Your Mental and Emotional Health


Recharge your mental and emotional health

RECHARGE your mental and emotional health, is the next of the 4 KEY requirements in our Health Made Simple series. Previously, we’ve discussed EAT and MOVE for your body’s design. If you’re looking for an overview of Health Made Simple, check out our recent BlogCast!

Go, Go, Go

Seemingly, that’s all we do. Whether it’s work, piano lessons, soccer practice, family gatherings; it seems as though we are constantly busy. Certainly, this can lead to physical fatigue, but just as important, it can lead to a depletion in your mental and emotional health as well.

Think of your health like a bank account. If you are constantly withdrawing more than you are depositing, then you’re bound to end up in debt. Often we find it easy to picture this with our physical health. If you’re feeding yourself processed, low nutrient foods, and you’re unable to exercise consistently, then it’s no surprise when the body begins to break down. When this happens, you start to express symptoms, be that an illness, digestive problems, back discomfort, etc.

Less frequently, though, do we think about the debt accumulating with our mental and emotional health. If we withdraw too much from this “account,” you may experience things such as mental fatigue, memory loss, anxiety, or depression. These symptoms are just as important as the physical symptoms which might arise from a fast paced, busy life. It’s for this reason that RECHARGING is one of the 4 KEY requirements for optimal health.

So, How do I RECHARGE?

Understand that RECHARGE your mental and emotional health begins with developing rituals, not habits. Habits are the mindless things we spend doing ever day, like scrolling social media, eating junk food, and watching TV. All of these ultimately take their toll on our health. Rituals, on the other hand, are specific and purposeful, cognitive behaviors, repeated at specific points in the day. They are meant to reset the mind and body. As we discuss the strategies to RECHARGE, many will be centered on developing these rituals.

1 – DEEP SLEEP

Did you know 57% of Americans think sleep is a luxury? Sleep is not an indulgence. It’s something critical to your body. In fact, a lack of quality sleep can lead to a laundry list of issues. This includes mood changes, increased mental illness, lowered immunity, and obesity to name a few.

While everyone is different, on average, adults require 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you want to know if you’re getting regular Deep Sleep, take this short quiz. If 2 or more apply, then it’s likely you ARE NOT getting the deep sleep your body requires.

Do you…

  • require an alarm clock?
  • take a long time getting out of bed?
  • wake up regularly grumpy?
  • require stimulants (caffeine, nicotine) to “wake-up”?
  • look tired or run down in the morning?
  • sleep considerably longer on the days you can?

If this is you, it’s time to change that! Here are tips for achieving deep sleep.

Build a Sleep Cave

Bedroom is Near Pitch Black – your sleep cycle is highly dependent on light, both artificial and natural. Limiting light exposure before and during sleep maintains your natural rhythm and the body’s ability to get Deep Sleep. Exposure to light can confuse the brain into thinking it’s daytime and not sleep time

Bedroom is Slightly Cool – our bodies are evolutionarily primed for sleep by falling environmental temperatures. It’s good to lower the temperature of your bedroom 30 minutes before you go to sleep.

Electronics-Free Zone – no computer, phone, tv, tablet, etc. Nothing. PERIOD. First, these devices emit blue light, which excites the brain and can interrupt your sleep cycle. They may also hinder you from falling or staying asleep with notifications, vibrations, or flashes. Lastly, the use of electronics can be a source of anxiety or distraction making it difficult to wind down.

Supportive Mattress and Pillow – if you’re going to spend one-third of your life sleeping, doesn’t it make sense to sleep on something that will properly support you (and your spine)? Because each of us is different anatomically, there is no “one size fits all,” recommendation. The best advice is to make sure your nose, belly button, and the center of your pelvis are in a straight line.

Bedroom is Only For Sleep – if your brain is taught that the bedroom is only for sleep, not things like Netflix or homework, then it will be easier to fall and stay asleep. Note that reading and intimate time with your partner are okay in the bedroom.

Have a Sleep Ritual

Regular Sleep Schedule – When you adopt the same bedtime and wake time throughout the week, you will sleep best. Deviating from this routine 2-3 times per month with have minimal effects, but 2-3 times per week might make it impossible for Deep Sleep.

  • determine how many hours of sleep is best for you
  • define your sleep and wake times
  • write these down on your agenda and give yourself a 15 minute window on either side by which to abide
  • follow the schedule as best you can, 7 days a week

30 minutes before bed, Start your ritual by ___________ – if you have a specific routine each night, your brain begins to become trained to be in the mental state needed to fall asleep. The minimum for your pre-sleep ritual is 30 minutes. Adding when necessary is encouraged.

Slow your mind by ___________ – choose simple activities to avoid a racing mind at bed time. Meditation, prayer, stretching, or a novel are great places to start.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and food – alcohol, while easing the transition to sleep, can inhibit your brain from it regenerative processes. Caffeine should be limited in the afternoon, and restricted past 2-3:00 pm. And, you shouldn’t eat food any later than 2-3 hours before bed.

2 – Calm Mind

Have you ever noticed on days where you’re concentrating hard on your work or studying for exams, you tend to feel exhausted? While the brain and nervous system represent 2% of your body’s mass, it consumes 20% of the energy. Below are strategies for calming your mind and giving it a rest.

Take a break (it won’t kill you)!

Unrelenting and chronic mental stress place high demands on the body and can lead to myriad health problems and poor performance. Unchecked stress of a fast-paced lifestyle is linked with conditions such as cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disease, obesity, and lowered immunity.

Often, the best way to mitigate these issues, is to TAKE A BREAK. Give your mind a rest and a chance to use less of its energy requirements. If we are able to learn to control our thoughts and our mind, we can dramatically influence our overall health.

Mindfulness (it’s not woo-woo hippy stuff)

Mindfulness refers to the ability to be aware of your thoughts and emotions, and purposefully redirect them. It doesn’t mean sitting in a circle, wearing tie-dye, and chanting.

As you become more skilled with mindfullness, you’ll notice it easier to control your energy levels, mood, and emotions. You’ll be able to fully engage in tasks and develop increased mental flexibility to move between tasks. A calm mind also enables you to respond better to frustration or other malicious experience which are part of every day.

How do I start?

First, there are several apps which you can download for your smart phone. Two of the most common meditation apps are Headspace and Calm. You may also find it beneficial to reconnect with your faith. If you are Christian, for example, consider using a Bible app such as YouVersion.

Over the next 10 days, “take ten.” Headspace for example has introductory 10 day meditation sessions. Schedule a specific time each day to complete this exercise. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to set your alarm in the morning, ten minutes earlier.

Check in Each Hour

Take as many opportunities as you can throughout the day to be mindful. Whether you choose a specific time, physical cue (going to the bathroom), or response to external stress, take time to break from what you’re doing.

A great strategy for this is diaphragmatic or deep breathing. The method of deep breathing most preferred to teach at Keystone Chiropractic is called box breathing.

When box breathing, think of drawing a square. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for another 4 counts. Repeat this for 1-2 minutes.

Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to reduce heart rate, lower your stress hormones, and give you the opportunity to connect with your consciousness. It’s a great way to calm your mind each hour.

At Least 10 minutes

As discussed above, many of the available tools for mindfulness offer 10 minute sessions, making it quite easy to accomplish this task. 10 minutes is a great starting point for dedicated mind-calming practices, but as you get used to it, start to introduce a little more time each day, or each week. Unlike physical exercise, it’s impossible to overwork your “mindfulness muscle,” and it will continue to strengthen and grow with practice.

3 – Planned Rest

This is really the unifying theme of RECHARGE your mental and emotional health. For optimal healing of the body, including your mind, it’s important to maintain balance in energy expenditure (refer back to the bank account analogy).

Every day, there are numerous activities which consume our energy. Household chores, work, travel, relationships, grief, anxiety, etc. to name a few.

We must have times of planned rest to counter those withdraws. This includes things like sleep, meditation, prayer, and pleasure reading.

Planning your rest…

As you look to plan your rest and recharge activities, first schedule on a daily/weekly basis. For example:

  • 5-10 minute prayer when waking up
  • 2 minutes of box breathing each hour at work
  • Lunchtime is for LUNCH. Dinnertime is for DINNER
  • No food after 8 pm; No phone after 9 pm
  • In bed by 10:00 pm
  • Read a novel for 15-20 minutes
  • Lights out at 10:30 pm

The important thing is to remain as consistent as possible each day, week to week.


As with the EAT and MOVE requirements, begin taking small steps toward achieving the RECHARGE your mental and emotional health requirement as well. The more consistently you are able to fulfill each of your body’s needs the more you will move toward optimal health. Remember that health is a journey, not a destination. Work to continually add another strategy and improve meeting these KEY requirements.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Keystone Chiropractic.

Move for Your Body’s Design

Move for your body’s design is a continuation of Health Made Simple, discussed in previous entries.


Is it your goal to move or exercise more in the New Year?

It can be a confusing and complicated journey with new and conflicting advice coming out everywhere you turn. First, let’s think about your health in simple terms and ask, “What does the body need to be healthy?” As previously discussed, here are the 4 KEY Requirements.

  1. Movement: To move for your body’s design requires more, and different, types of movement that are currently “normal” for the average person.
  2. Fuel: Provide the building blocks for life. You are what you eat and drink.
  3. Recharge: Focused time and energy put toward regenerating and restoring the mind and body.
  4. Brain/Body Connection: The 3 categories above are typically what people think about when improving their health. The things above happen effectively through an optimally functioning nervous system, free from obstruction. (psst…We can help with this!)

Our bodies tolerate great inadequacies but we cannot survive without these four things. In addition, we can’t be healthy and perform at our best if there are inefficiencies.

It’s important to note that you are NOT invincible if you fulfill these requirements perfectly (which is unrealistic for anyone). However, striving to improve in these areas increases your odds to tackle anything you want – whether that is sitting through the day pain free, hiking up a mountain on your next vacation, or getting the dream job you want.

If you want more from your body, get back to basics, and keep it simple. It may also help to think about improving your health as a journey, not a destination. This is something you continue to tweak throughout your life (not just the next 30 days).

The Why Behind the What (of Movement)

We know movement is required for an optimal life simply because ALL other requirements in life depend on our ability to move. For example, breathing requires optimal movement of the rib cage, expansion and contraction of the diaphragm, and optimal spinal mobility to best fulfill our requirement for oxygen. Movement is required for life. Optimal movement is required for a maximized life.

Movement is a primary sign of life and a basic requirement for all living things. Even a plant, that seems to be stuck in the ground and without the ability to escape predation, moves a great total distance every day!

Movement is required for life. Optimal movement is required for a maximized life. No one would disagree with this principle. The only question is: What strategies best fulfill this requirement?

Move for your body’s design…in other word’s “Here’s what to do!”

Be Mobile

Our lives are filled with daily stressors like sitting at desks, driving, working on computers, watching TV; even toxic food and emotional chaos contribute to the poor movement patterns seen in the average human. We’ve progressively become less active and this change for the worse has placed us into environments that are pushing our species away from its natural design and the flourishing state of health we deserve. Starting with a basic mobility program is the best way to begin restoring healthy movement.

Follow the links below to watch the instructional videos.

Joint to Joint Movement

Soft Tissue Integrity – Foam Rolling

Lift Heavy

After mobility, the first form of training is lifting heavy. Being strong translates into every area of life from enhanced performance to optimal health. Relative strength is fundamental to thriving in our modern world; yet, for the vast majority of all civilized populations, it is nearly non-existent. It’s no surprise degenerative diseases, workplace injuries, and disabilities are commonplace.

Lifting heavy is a relative term. Heavy for one person may feel like a walk in the park for another. The basic premise is that we must put our muscles, ligaments and bones under tension for them to adapt.

It is in this step that scaling the movements to where you are at physically is very important. For example: While a beginner may perform a body weight squat, an intermediate a goblet squat, or an advanced trainee a back or front squat with weights, the stimulus is the same. This principle of scalability can be applied to all movements for both lifting heavy and conditioning.

Functional movements

The movements below mimic activities performed in daily life.

  • Squats
  • Pull-ups
  • Overhead press
  • Deadlift
  • Bench press
  • Push-ups
  • Rows
  • Lunges
  • Planks

Go Fast

Contrary to conventional wisdom, hours on a treadmill or miles on the pavement each week are not necessary for conditioning of the cardiovascular system or fat loss. In fact, evidence shows they may be detrimental.

While the popular trends in fitness are still long distance endurance events – running, triathlons, and “Boot Camp” style training (consisting of extended intervals for longer duration) these are not the optimal approach to conditioning. This step can be fulfilled by simply introducing intervals (a period of work – followed by a period of rest) for 5-15 total minutes. This includes using body weight movements, kettle bells, compound exercises, sprinting or even alternating between walking fast and walking at a moderate pace.

Move Slow

There is a delicate balance between training and recovery. Adequate sleep, de-loading weeks, and reduced volumes are part of the “art” of fulfilling move for your body’s design. The simplest approach is paying attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle cues of the body. Not every day needs to be a training day! While we have considerably more requirement for movement than most people expect, sometimes a bike ride with the kids or walking in nature is just as valuable.

Scheduling

Work toward fulfilling the movement requirement on a weekly basis. Here are some suggestions.

  • Joint to joint movement – Daily
  • Soft tissue integrity (Foam Rolling) – 3 to 5 times per week
  • Lift Heavy – 2 to 3 sessions per week
  • Go Fast – 2 to 3 sessions per week
  • Move Slow – Daily

Where Do I Start?

Start with Baby Steps.

You are working toward fulfilling your body’s requirement for movement for your lifetime, not just for a few weeks. If you currently do little movement in your daily life, here’s an example of where to start.

First Week: Joint-to-joint movement 6-7x, Walk for 20 minutes 2x

Second Week: Week 1 + 2 sessions of foam rolling

Third Week: Add 1 day of body weight “lift heavy” exercises

Fourth Week: Add 1 day of “go fast” alternating fast walking with moderate pace walking

Track your progress

Buy a colorful journal or use technology (FitBit, Apple Watch, Garmin) to help you set goals and track your progress.

Find a buddy

Enlist a family member, friend, or co-worker to help keep each other accountable.

Try Something New

Try different classes. Group fitness classes can help you fulfill all or some of the movement requirement.

Examples: Crossfit, Orangetheory Fitness, Pilates, Barre, Yoga, Cycling/Spinning, Kickboxing, Barbell classes (Body Pump), etc.

Seek help from a personal trainer for one-on-one attention to help you feel comfortable using weights & equipment at a gym

Motivation

If increased energy, stamina, strength, balance, flexibility and more aren’t enough motivation to get you to move. Perhaps a few of the suggestions below can serve as extrinsic motivation for you.

  • Smart phone apps allow you to set and track movment goals
  • Some group classes have a “no show” fee if you sign up for a class and don’t show up.
  • Some health or life insurance policies reward you for completing workouts and other healthy activities.

If you move for your body’s design, the result will be improvement in each of the following areas:

  1. Cardiovascular/Respiratory endurance – the ability of the body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
  2. Stamina – The ability of the body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
  3. Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of units to apply force.
  4. Flexibility – The ability to optimize range of motion at a given joint.
  5. Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination or muscular units to apply maximum force in minimum time.
  6. Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle or a repeated movement.
  7. Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into singular distinct movements.
  8. Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
  9. Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its base.
  10. Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

**the above were adapted from CrossFit**

Everything at the Same Time

Our culture has been known to celebrate high levels of skill specialization and has even socially accepted some skills as healthy and others as unhealthy. For example, a marathoner who has high cardiovascular/respiratory endurance and stamina is judged as healthier than a power lifter who has high levels of strength and balance. If we define health as optimal cellular function – in the absence of all requirements being fulfilled – neither is functioning optimally.

This is a good time to remember that, in order to be living an extraordinary life, we need to be doing everything, at the same time, for a period of time, preferably a lifetime. Following the MOVE Protocol alone will improve our health but will not make us optimal.

If we take the endurance athlete from our example and have him compete in a power-lifting competition, he would fail miserably, and likewise the powerlifter in a marathon. Specializing means focusing on only one aspect at the expense of the rest. This isn’t necessarily bad if your goal is to qualify for the Olympics in powerlifting or the marathon, but it’s not going to fulfill the movement requirements for optimal function over your lifetime.

Don’t Forget…

Having a clear Brain-Body Connection allows full integration of all the requirements. Each is dependent on neurological function, and inherent in each requirement is the need for synergistic activity. In order for the body to work together, a proper nerve supply is paramount.

Insert Chiropractic here.

Eat for Your Body’s Design

Eat for your body's design

Eat for your body’s design is a continuation of Health Made Simple, described in a previous blog. Below is a quick review before discussing how to properly fuel your body.

Is a health goal like eating better or cleaning up your diet on your radar this year? It can be a confusing and complicated journey with new and conflicting advice coming from everywhere you turn.

First, Let’s think about your health in simple terms and ask, “What does the body need to be health?

  1. Movement: The body requires much more and different types of movement than the current “normal” for the average person.
  2. Fuel: Provide the building blocks for life. You are what you eat and drink
  3. Recharge: Focused time and energy put toward regenerating and restoring the mind an body.
  4. Brain/Body Connection: The 3 categories above are typically what people think about when improving their health. The things above happen effectively through an optimally functioning nervous system, free from obstruction. (psst…We can help with this!)

Our bodies can tolerate great inadequacies but cannot survive without these four things. We also can’t be healthy and perform at our best if there are inefficiencies.

You are NOT invincible if you are able to fulfill these requirements perfectly (which is unrealistic for anyone), but striving to improve in these areas increases your odds to tackle anything you want – whether that is sitting through the day pain free, hiking up a mountain on your next vacation, or getting the dream job you want.

If you want more from your body, get back to basics and keep it simple. It may also help to think about improving your health as a journey, not a destination. This will be something you can continue to tweak throughout your LIFE (not just the next 30 days).


What to eat and what to avoid can change daily depending on what you read or even what goals you’re working toward.

We want to answer, “what food works in harmony with our body’s genetic make-up and design?”

The protocol shared below is a guideline of how to eat to create health, as opposed to the culturally accepted norm of nutrition for disease treatment and prevention. It is an approach to fulfill the nutritional requirements of the body for optimal function.

Eat Real Food First

Establish food quality as the most important criteria as you eat for your body’s design. If it comes in a package and has a bar code, it’s not very likely to be real food. Start by putting more high quality, real food into the body and address food quantity later, if necessary. If you simply begin to understand what real food is and start eating it, your health and life will transform dramatically

Eat Protein with Every Meal

Low protein diets have become a staple recommendation by healthcare and sickcare providers over the past 50 years. We have been told protein strains the kidneys, weakens bones, is unhealthy, and even makes us fat.

Amidst all the perceived controversy, hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles show there is no controversy in terms of the safety of protein consumption. In fact, the opposite is true. The danger of under-eating protein is clear.

Consider the average diet that contains minimal protein and is high in processed carbohydrates. This diet has produced a population where seven of ten North Americans are overweight, if not obese, and one in four have metabolic syndrome.

It is unquestionable that protein is a requirement for life. It is needed for growth and development of bones, muscles, nerves, the brain, skin, hair, nails, tendons and ligaments.

Based on animal protein research, protein metabolism, archeological data, and logic, we feel it is impossible to fulfill all the requirements for 100% health without eating animal proteins.

This does not mean you could not function well without animal proteins, as there are ways to get adequate protein into the body. It is to say, you could never be optimal without them, as animal proteins best fulfill the protein requirement for the human body.

TIPS

  1. Eat a protein source (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, wild game, eggs, or wild fish) at every feeding
  2. Liquid sources of protein (shakes, smoothies, etc.) shout NOT be your first choice. they can be a substitute occasionally and are a better choice than a toxic alternative, but they are not REAL FOOD.
  3. Pre-cook your protein. Make it easy by having some protein ready in a glass container in the fridge or with you at work.

Eat Vegetables

Vegetables are always a good choice as you eat for your body’s design. Vegetables are the edible portion of a plant not including the fruits, grains, or nuts. They are highly dense in vitamins and micronutrients, and seem to be the one food everyone can agree on as a vital component of our diet. The best method of preparation is to cook them, as plants often have developed anti-predatory mechanisms that be harmful and affect the digestive process in humans.

Increase Quality Fat Intake

This includes fat from healthy animal sources, pastured butter, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, minimal nuts, seeds and olive oil. Avoid highly processed seed and grain oils.

The type of fat that should be completely avoided is anything that is man-made – not because it is man-made, but because at the present time there is no man-made fat source that enables us to function closer to our genetic potential. Man-made sources of fat are seed oils (sunflower, safflower, linseed), vegetable oils, canola oil, and most trans-fats.

Remove Highly Processed Grains. Limit Unprocessed Grains & Legumes

The majority of nutrients we find in grains & legumes can be obtained from other sources of food. Both grains and legumes can be irritating to the gut and result in inflammation and distress.

Although there have been some minor adaptations among some cultures to grains and legumes, it ultimately is a question of what is optimal vs. what can be tolerated. Some of these substances are much more damaging, such as wheat, and some less so, such as white rice. The negative effects in some instances can be mitigated by soaking, fermenting and cooking, but in the end it will always be a short cut in order to get the most from the least with minimal damage.

Unless you are choosing a vegetarian lifestyle in which some fermented beans and legumes can help increase protein content or the endurance athlete who incorporates the occasional dose of white rice, the best and optimal choice is simply to limit grain and legumes.

Remove Sugar

It is a toxic substance and should be avoided or consumed in very small quantities. This includes high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, pop and packaged foods. Fruit is still a sugar and should be consumed based on your goals.

Fat loss? Very minimal amounts. Healthy body composition? In moderation.

The issue isn’t that the body is unable to adapt to sugar consumption – especially when it comes from real food sources like sweet potatoes, squash or pumpkin. The issue is that you don’t eat for your body’s design, and ingest an abundance of sugar that is not from real food.

Look for Real Food Sugars

The main source of sugar in real food is glucose and the main source in fake food is fructose. This is a very simplified view, but to understand the general principle, it works. Our friends at the Whole30 have called these foods Frankenfoods – highly processed and loaded with fructose because it is cheap and easy to produce but it is also a total anti-nutrient and a complete disaster for the human body, especially when consumed in vast quantities.

Due to the other chemicals and additives found in these Frankenfoods, even our brain chemistry has started to change. Our perception of what is sweet is altered and down-regulated as an adaptation. And the result is we crave more!

This cycle continues on and on; we crave more sweet foods, fill that need, and in the process negatively affect liver function and initiate metabolic syndrome. And so the downward spiral to terrible health ensues.

Earn Your Carbs

Earning your carbs means being active — training, exercising and moving enough to require an increase in carbohydrate consumption. An inactive person will have less requirement for carbohydrate and, as such, any unutilized sources will be converted to triglycerides and stored as fat.

If you are training regularly, a great time to consume your carbohydrate source is following your intense training session. Although there is no need to become overly focused on when to consume them – just make sure you are active enough to require adding more into your diet. Depending on your training goals and body type, increased carbohydrate intake may be of benefit. They are best consumed in the post-training window and from non-gut irritating sources like sweet potatoes, yams and squashes.

Supplement to Fill the Gaps

Eating real food should be the primary approach to fulfilling your nutritional requirements; the Essentials simply fill in the gaps. The Essentials include: Omega 3 saturation (EPA/DHA), vitamin D3 optimization, and probiotic use for gut health. If you want to learn more about why we recommend these supplements, click here.

Dairy is a Gray Area

Dairy is a great source of fat, protein, and micronutrients, which means it fulfills some of the vital nutritional requirements of the body. Some cultures have even shown a genetic adaptation to dairy in the form of lactase persistence over a relatively short time.

The problem is that not all dairy is equal. The pasteurization process damages the natural state of dairy and turns it into a processed food as opposed to raw dairy which is a whole food. Interestingly, many people who cannot tolerate pasteurized dairy due to the milk sugar lactose have no issues with raw dairy as this whole food actually has lactase in it naturally to break down lactose. This is yet another example of how real food differs significantly from processed food.

For the most part stick to butter and cream avoiding the dairy proteins in milk products which may be allergenic & inflammatory to many and have other known issues.

Stop Counting Calories

Eat real food when you’re hungry. Unfortunately, if you’ve been doing all the wrong things for a really long time, your internal feedback systems will be distorted, so it will take some time of following the correct principles to reset the system, but it will happen.

NOW WHAT?

The long story made short is GET STARTED! Any of the steps listed above that you choose to implement will move you to eat for your body’s design. The steps are based on correct principles meaning they all work. The more steps you add, with consistency and time, the better able your body is able to work towards its full genetic potential.

What do I Eat?

  • Meat, fish, fowl, seafood, eggs, animal fats, and oils
  • Cooked plants and vegetables
  • Roots, tubers, peeled potatoes
  • Limited nuts and seeds
  • Limited fruit (non dried and no sugar added)
  • Full fat dairy if tolerated – preferably raw
  • Limited unprocessed or low-processed grains (rice, quinoa, sprouted bread) and legumes

What do I Avoid?

  • Sweeteners & sugars
  • Highly processed grains (cereals, flours)
  • Seed oils, vegetable oils and nut oils

Abide by the 80/20 Rule

Focus on following the 10 steps 80% of the time and allow yourself some leeway the other 20% of the time. A way to help you do this is the Heck Yes or No Principle. 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 less than that is a NO. If you were to give it a rating from 1-10, anything lower than a 9 or 10 is a NO.

Autoimmunity

While the above protocol is not prescriptive, we do acknowledge there are some states within the body that can come to exist through previous lifestyle choices and the damage they can create. Autoimmunity is one of those states that require a slight alteration in some of the recommended sources of food.

Please note that the requirements of the body do not change, but how those requirements are fulfilled may need to be altered while you eat for your body’s design.

If your body is in a chronic state of autoimmunity remove these sources of food:

  • Seeds
  • Nightshade Vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Fodmaps (fructose, sucrose, polyols)
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol

Everything at the Same Times

Therefore, in order to be living an extraordinary life, we need to be doing everything, at the same time, for a period of time, preferably a lifetime. Certainly, the above protocol will improve your life, but will not make it optimal.

Health Made Simple is an integrative approach to achieving success built on the simple principle that having strategies to fulfill the most fundamental requirements for optimal life and health expression will lead to the best version of ourselves.

Don’t Forget…

Having a clear Brain-Body Connection allows full integration of all the requirements. Each is dependent on neurological function, and inherent in each requirement is the need for synergistic activity. In order for the body to work together, a proper nerve supply is paramount.

Insert Chiropractic here.

We realize the above is very information dense. There are volumes and volumes of research dedicated to all the steps and principles covered to eat for you body’s design. Most people already know what to eat; they just don’t know why they need to eat it. It is the same for each of the Health Made Simple components and the true power of Health Made Simple as a life-care model.

Health Made Simple – A BlogCast

Health Made Simple is a BlogCast from Keystone Chiropractic. It’s designed to make the seemingly complicated goals around health, simple.

Health Made Simple

Health Made Simple is available in written form as well. Check out each individual requirement for more details. You can find links to those articles below.

Eat for Your Body’s Design

Move for Your Body’s Design

Recharge

Brain-Body Connection

How to Keep Your Health Goals Simple This Year

Keep your Health Goals Simple this year. It can be a confusing and complicated journey with new and conflicting advice coming out everywhere you turn.

Let’s think about your health in simple terms and ask…

What key things does the body require to be healthy?


1. Movement: The body requires much more and different types of movement than are currently “normal” for the average person.
2. Fuel: Provide the building blocks for life. You are what you eat & drink.
3. Recharge: Focused time and energy put towards regenerating and restoring the mind & body.
4. Brain/Body Connection: The 3 categories above are typically what people think about when improving their health. The things above happen effectively through an optimally functioning nervous system, free from obstruction. (Psst! We can help with this)

Our bodies can tolerate great inadequacies but we cannot survive without these four things. We also can’t be healthy and perform at our best if there are inefficiencies.

You are NOT invincible if you fulfill these requirements perfectly (which is unrealistic for anyone), but striving to improve in these areas increases your odds to tackle anything you want — whether that is sitting through the day pain free, hiking up a mountain on your next trip, or getting the dream job you want.

If you want more from your body, get back to basics, and keep it simple. Also, it may help to think about improving your health as a journey, not a destination. This will be something you continue to tweak throughout your LIFE (not just for the next 30 days).

How to Get Started.

Here’s a few suggestions of tweaks you can choose to focus on to get you started…

Movement: 

-Add one day of strength training per week. Simply using your body weight is a great place to start.

-Not moving at all currently? Squeeze in 2-3x of this quick energy boost to break up your day (especially if you’re a desk-jockey).


Fuel: 

Pick out a vegetable at the grocery store you haven’t had in a while and look up an easy recipe to prepare it. 

-Work toward drinking half of your body weight in ounces daily (200 lb person = 100 ounces/day).

Recharge: 

-Take a moment daily (at least weekly) to jot down a few things you’re grateful for. Try thinking about the little things throughout your week (a friendly barista, a friend that truly listened to you during a difficult time)

-Try not to deviate too far from your normal sleep schedule on the weekend.

Brain/Body Connection: 

Current patients: Start with 5 minutes, 3x per week to dedicate to regrouping with your at home complementary recommendations (stretches, exercises, etc.).  Also, make sure to get checked and adjusted regularly to prevent any major crises from popping up.

Everyone else: Consider scheduling a complimentary consultation or attending an Introduction to NeuroStructural Chiropractic session to start the process of checking the status on your brain/body connection.

The articles, blogs, workshops, and events we’ll share throughout the year will revolve around the categories above. While we don’t offer services in ALL of the categories above, we’ve made some fantastic connections around the metro with people who know their stuff. We’re here to help (and to connect you with folks that can help) you reach your health goals this year and beyond. Don’t hesitate to let us know how we can best do that!

What to Do About Sciatica

Embracing Stress: A Change in Perception

Phew, we made it through May, known by some as “May-cember”. The end of the school year can bring just as much if not more stress than the holidays.

When talking about stress, know that our bodies are built to handle it. In fact, we need a certain amount of stress to grow and function properly. Our bones need physical stress to remain healthy and strong, our muscles need stress to grow as well, and there are certain stressors in life that help our brains build synaptic bridges and function better.


It’s our ability to adapt to our stressors that is key.



Our ability to adapt allows us to evolve and learn. Part of that adaptability is in our perception of stress. A variety of books we’ve read recently deal with the importance of our perception (see the book list below).

Our perception shapes our reality. We all view the world with a different lens because we’ve all had different experiences in our lives to make us who we are. Sometimes our perception can take us down a more negative path where we perceive every situation, trial, and tribulation as stressful. Other times, our perception takes us on a glass is half full path where there is a silver lining to all the events we are experiencing.

Approaching trials and tribulations from a standpoint of embracing stress rather than getting rid of it completely involves a change in our perception. Instead of trying to manage stress, look at it from a different viewpoint, embracing the challenges and learning new techniques to adapt to the stressors.

What are some ways you can increase your adaptability to stress?

Spending time outdoors and connecting with nature.

This can help calm the nervous system and induce a sense of relaxation. A study in Environmental Science and Technology found that just 5 minutes outdoors can do wonders for mental well-being, and that exercising outdoors helps produce a better mood than exercising indoors. Getting outside and walking, running, or doing yoga can do wonders for your adaptation to stressful situations.

Aromatherapy through the use of essential oils.

This can also help increase your adaptation to stress. Our sense of smell is so powerful and is directly translated to a primitive part of our brain called the limbic system. This part of the brain can influence emotions and memories. It would make sense then, that using aromatherapy and essential oils can affect our emotions and help induce a more relaxed state of being. A studyout of Iran found that women who were experiencing anxiety during labor had a reduced level of anxiety, diastolic blood pressure, and pulse rate when exposed to an essential oil of orange peel!

Starting a gratitude journal.

Gratitude can be an impactful way to change your perception and help you embrace stress. It also doesn’t take much to start one. This articlementions several options for creating one. One simple way to start one is to jot down 5 things in the morning and 5 things in the evening for which you are grateful for. It can be as simple as you’re grateful for hot coffee in the morning, or more emotive such as being thankful for specific people in your life. I challenge you to start a gratitude journal and watch how your stressors take a different form. It’s all in how you perceive it.

Regular chiropractic adjustments.

Adjustments can help balance the nervous system. Yes, the nervous system is complex, but simply put, the brain controls all the functions of the body. The brain and spinal cord make up your central nervous system. The nerves exiting the spinal cord make up your peripheral nervous system which is then divided into 3 parts: the somatic (think motor control), enteric (think gut brain connection), and autonomic/automatic (think fight or flight vs. rest and digest).

The autonomic/automatic nervous system is crucial in regulating the stress response of our body. 

If you perceive a situation to be stressful, then your pupils dilate, your heart rate increases, your breathing increases, and you begin to sweat. This is all part of the sympathetic (fight or flight) response. In contrast, when you are calm and relaxed, the parasympathetic part of your nervous system is in control and your breathing and heart rate are slower. 

Did you know that the sympathetic and parasympathetic parts of the nervous system can not function at the same time...and that structural shifts of the spine putting pressure on nerves can affect the overall function of the autonomic nervous system? In a review article, it was noted that chiropractic adjustments help to reduce and/or correct structural shifts (vertebral subluxations) and can help balance the function of the parasympathetic and sympathetic parts of the nervous system.

Now the above list is by no means complete. We’d love to know what you do to unwind and reconnect and how you embrace stressful situations with a change in perception.


Books

*Bruce Lipton The Biology of Belief

*Dr. Wayne Dyer The Shift

*Dr. Candace Pert Molecules of Emotion

Pregnancy, Stress, and Structural Chiropractic

Pregnancy comes with its own unique forms of stress. Learn how structural chiropractic can help you before, during, and after pregnancy.

Check out the Prenatal Chiropractic page on our website and learn why it’s vital for pregnancy. ICPA also has some great information.

“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 child,  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.

Dystocia – 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 NeuroStructural 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.

The 3 P’s of Pregnancy

Power

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 affecting the Power.

Passage

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.

Passenger

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.

The Role of NeuroStructural Chiropractic in the 3P’s of Pregnancy

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 NeuroStructural 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.

Reach out to us today if you or a loved one would like to learn more about the 3P’s of Pregnancy and how Keystone Chiropractic and NeuroStructural Correction can help.

Proper Footwear and Your Structure

As part of a complete program of care, there are certain recommendations that we make to help you achieve the best results in the shortest amount of time. 

Footwear can be an important and overlooked solution to improving your spinal alignment and avoiding repetitive stress on your structure.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

Avoid High Heels & Flip Flops


Not only do high heels create foot, toe and heel pain, they are also dangerous for your structure. When you wear them, your toes are pointed down and there is more pressure on the ball of the foot; you are also altering your gait because the calf muscle is shortened while you’re in high heels. High heels also overarch the back and position you forward, which can cause low back pain as well as neck and shoulder pain. Choose shoes with a heel of two inches or less and save the extreme high heels for rare occasions.

Flip flops (especially the dirt cheap kind) have ZERO support for your foot. They may be fine to wear on a sandy beach, but they are NOT for regular summer wear or walking around the State Fair! The flatness and lack of support in these shoes can cause arch, heel, ankle, and knee pain. Flip flops also cause you to put more pressure on the outside edges of the foot rather than the heel.

Pay Attention to Styles


Some shoe styles do not provide adequate support and can increase pain or create other problems. Try to avoid shoes with very thin straps that let the ankles wobble and do not give enough support. Thin straps can also dig into your skin and create pain or sores. The same with ballet flats, they usually have very thin, flimsy soles that provide the same issues as flip flops.

Do not buy beautiful shoes that do not fit your feet. Although fashion is important, it is not worth the pain of swollen feet and possible nerve damage.

Get Arch Support


It is vital that you have proper arch support no matter the style of shoe or boot and this is one area where you may need to spend a little more money for a better-quality product.However, you can purchase inserts and other products to help the arches. For some, custom-made orthotics may be appropriate – especially if you’re spending large amounts of time on your feet. 


Active? Get Fitted.


If you are active, a professional can help you find the right training shoes that provide the best support for YOUR foot. Do NOT go by color and look. For more on how to choose the right running (or walking) shoe, read our full post here AND go visit our partners Heartland Soles & Fleet Feet Des Moines.


Remember to Rest


It is important to give the feet a chance to rest so remember to take breaks and slow down. If it is possible, take off your shoes at work to stretch. Avoid wearing tight or uncomfortable shoes that squish your toes during the day. Consider soaking the feet in a warm bath or getting a massage. Remember to wiggle your toes and give the feet a chance to move without the constriction of shoes or socks.

Keep in mind the above our general recommendations to keep in mind. We can provide more personalized suggestions for you as part of your customized plan of care at Keystone Chiropractic.

Stop Sniffling through Springtime

Take a moment to learn about Allergies and how 4 key ways that Structural Chiropractic may help!

Spring is (finally) here in Des Moines. This time of year many people stock up on antihistamines and other medications to help them endure the onslaught of allergy symptoms: sneezing, itching, watery eyes and stuffy noses.

Researchers have warned that environmental changes such as air pollution and rising temperatures will continue to propel allergy levels to “epidemic proportions with reduced quality of life for patients, lower productivity, and increasing medical costs.” The medical costs are nothing to sneeze at. Between medications, doctor visits and sick days from work, allergies cost Americans more than $3 billion each year. Worldwide, people spend $8 billion a year on allergy drugs alone.

In our video of the month below, Dr. Adam discusses allergies and 4 ways NeuroStructural Corrective care may help.

Mobility Tools We Often Recommend

Foam rollers, tennis balls, lacrosse balls, and trigger point hooks can all be great mobility tools we often recommend in conjunction with your structural corrective care. Sometimes, they go together like peanut butter and jelly!

As a structurally focused chiropractor, we’re focused on the orientation of the spine & how it impacts the body. It’s easy to understand this relationship when you consider the structure of the spine is directly related to the health and well-being of the muscles attached to the spine and the nerves that control these muscles.

Any time the position of your spine is fixed in an abnormal position it can create stress, myofascial restrictions, muscle imbalances, over recruitment, and/or inflammation. In most cases, the spine is the primary condition that create these muscular problems. However, there are often situations, particularly in athletes, where muscle imbalances are so great that they need to be treated concurrently with the spinal abnormalities. This is one of the reasons we enjoy partnering with local physical therapists and massage therapists for those that need the extra help!

Those with less advanced abnormalities may take advantage of mobility tools pictured above. The best way to use them is before it’s “too late”.  At some point, the pain and symptoms from significant myofascial restrictions and trigger points can be so bad that it may not be practical to use them on yourself.

Trigger points are basically small bundles of muscle that fail to relax. They can cause severe pain and often referral pain that can be easily overlooked or misdiagnosed as many doctors and even chiropractors are not experienced with or looking for abnormal muscle or myofascial problems. All the more reason using mobility tools on a regular basis can be helpful for you. Prevent a simple problem from becoming a relatively difficult and complex one. The sooner you start the better.

Using the tools are relatively easy but can be rather unpleasant. Working through the discomfort is necessary to a certain degree, which is why we usually recommend starting with short sessions at a low to moderate intensity and work up from there. It’s possible you may hurt yourself.

Aside from the pain factor, which improves with use and often has a “hurts so good” effect, mobility tools are often a great complement to improve benefits of their structurally focused chiropractic care. Simplified, its effects are similar to stretching. Foam rolling does seem to go above and beyond just improved range of motion without causing the subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force often seen in static stretching. However, foam rolling and static stretching have shown to have an added benefit when performed together.  

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions and consult your provider before using mobility tools at home to treat a specific condition. Instruction on the proper use of these tools is something we provide to our current patients to lessen the chances of aggravation or injury.


Overcoming a Whiplash Injury

Have you had a Whiplash Injury? Are you dealing with neck pain, headaches, numbness & tingling or other issues years later? Learn how Structural Chiropractic might help!

If you read almost any research that has ever been done on whiplash injuries, it is almost impossible to not find related health issues following the accident. It is yet another solid validation that spinal structural shifts and resulting nerve obstruction can either be a primary cause or at least a significant contributing factor in a wide variety of health conditions.

What’s important to note is…

…the damage of your vehicle has no bearing on how much damage may have been done to you.

WHY?

One of the design features of cars (K-cars) made after 1980 was that they had a frame that could withstand impact. In fact the rear fender was called the “No Crumple Bumper.”

It sounded like a good idea, but what would happen is that the car would be struck from the rear, and rather than the frame absorbing the impact, it transfers the energy into the car, into the passenger and causes the greatest
amount of trauma to the passenger at the most vulnerable place—the cervical spine. With the success of the K-Car, virtually every car manufacturer in the world copied the technology, which is still in effect today.


The cars are…less prone to property damage, but substantially increase the injury risk to the passenger.

A comprehensive research review concluded that there is compelling evidence pointing to dysfunction in patients with suffering from whiplash injury. Changes in the central nervous system could make whiplash patients more sensitive to other types pain.

According to the Journal of Orthopedic Medicine, compared to the necks of uninjured patients, a single incidence of whiplash increases the occurrence of neck arthritis by ten years.


In our video of the month below, Dr. Adam discusses Whiplash injuries, some of the secondary effects and how NeuroStructural Corrective care may help. You can also view our health issue on Whiplash below this video. Both are great to share with a friend or loved one who may have been in accident.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’d like to investigate the possible effects a previous whiplash injury has had on your health.


Silent dangers or whiplash injury. Neck pain, chronic pain, shoulder pain, Multiple Sclerosis, pain. Research on car accidents and health problems.

DIY Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer Spray

Hand sanitizer.

It sounds like a great alternative to washing your hands with soap and water. It’s quick, portable, and convenient, especially when you don’t have running water nearby.

It’s important to be cautious of ingredients because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration  ruled in 2016 that manufacturers should stop using triclosan, a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps and sanitizers at the time, due to its ability to disrupt hormones and contribution to a rise in resistant strains of bacteria.

What’s a less-toxic alternative?


Hand washing with good old-fashioned soap in water is best. However, if you’re in a pinch or don’t have access to regular hand washing – you can make your own hand sanitizer spray really easily. This is what Drs. Megan & Adam use between patients to help minimize the spread of illness.

Since we recently made a new batch of hand sanitizer spray, some patients have asked what it is we use. You can find the recipe below, which we adapted from One Essential Community.

DIY Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer Spray

2 ounce spray bottle

  • add 1 tsp carrier oil such as, fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil (we used jojoba oil)
  • add 10-12 drops of essential oil (see below for combinations we’ve used)

EO blend 1–> 4 drops tea tree + 4 drops lavender + 2 drops lemon

EO blend 2 –> 5 drops wild orange + 5 drops tea tree

  • add 2-3 drops vitamin e
  • add 1/2 tsp glycerin
  • fill the bottle most of the way full with witch hazel (make sure to leave a little room for the spray top)

Put on spray top and shake to mix.

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information on this post are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is not substitute for professional care.  Always consult your doctor regarding your medical care. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

HEAT vs. ICE

We often receive this question from many of our patients about whether they should use ice or heat and when they should do so.

RULE OF THUMB: Heat is for muscles, Ice is for Injuries

Heat

What It Does

Heat promotes muscle relaxation and can increase range of motion. It opens blood vessels to increase blood flow, relaxes muscles, and helps alleviate pain.

When to Use It

Heat is a great way to help loosen up tight joints and muscles. It is also a good method of pain relief for tension headaches and other chronic conditions. Always wait at least 48-72 hours before considering heat therapy. When in doubt, use ICE.

Helpful Tips

  • Treat for no longer than 20 minutes at a time
  • DO NOT lie on a hot pack to avoid falling asleep and potentially burning yourself
  • DO NOT use heat if you have no feeling in the affected part of your body
  • NEVER use heat if there is swelling or bruising
  • DO NOT apply heat directly to skin, use a thin towel
  • DO NOT use heat if you have poor circulation, such as with diabetes
  • Wait 1 hour between heat treatments

ICE

What It Does

Ice calms down damaged tissue and slows down the blood flow to an injury, reduces swelling and inflammation, and controls pain.

When to Use It

Ice should be used right after an injury or activity that aggravates a chronic condition. Ice is good for migraine headaches, bumps, sprains, and strains that may occur with sports, slips and falls, or lifting. Cold therapy is also helpful in treating overuse injuries or chronic pain in athletes. When in doubt, use ICE!

Helpful Tips

  • Treat for no longer than 20 minutes at a time
  • During treatment, check skin every 5 minutes to make sure there is no damage, such as freezer burn (skin would become reddened and blistered, just as when burned with heat)
  • DO NOT apply directly to skin, use a thin towel
  • Wait 1 hour between cold treatments

Important Note:

Both ice and heat can be part of corrective chiropractic care. Neither of these methods will work in injury or pain recovery one their own. Instead, they’re simply supplemental ways to reduce pain, inflammation, and stress which can aid in beginning stages of the corrective process.

Thoracic Outlet and Carpal Tunnel Syndromes

Numbness and tingling of the arms and hands are common conditions which our patients report. Could you be dealing with Thoracic outlet or Carpal Tunnel syndrome?

Watch the video below and download our Health Issue to learn more and how NeuroStructural Chiropractic may be able to help.

DOWNLOAD OUR CARPAL TUNNEL HEALTH ISSUE HERE.



What’s the Popping Sound?

What’s the cracking or popping sound when I receive an adjustment?

This is a question we get sometimes, especially from new patients that have never been adjusted before but have heard from a friend or relative that they go to the chiropractor to “get cracked”.

Thankfully, it turns out that nothing is actually cracking during an adjustment.

The sound is created when the surfaces of the joints are realigned at a high rate of speed, which is called a cavitation

Adjustments are performed with a very fast and shallow movement and this creates a negative pressure within the joint space. Every joint, be it spinal joints, ankle joints, finger joints, etc. are encapsulated.

Within this capsule are gases and fluids that keep the joints lubricated and moving smoothly. During an adjustment the joint is gapped or opened up (see photo below) which creates a negative pressure. This pressure change causes the gases (oxygen, nitrogen, and CO2) to be released which creates an audible sound. It’s very similar to the release of gas bubbles when you cork a champagne bottle.

Two joint spaces, one with gas bubbles that demonstrate cavitation, the popping or cracking the a joint can make during a chiropractic adjustment.
Cavitation of a joint is a result of expanding the distance between the two surfaces. When this happens, pressure inside the joint capsule drops leading to the formation of gas bubbles. An audible “pop or crack” is heard when these gas bubble expand, releasing the gas inside.

What happens next?

Once the joint is opened up, fluids re-lubricate the joint surfaces and normal motion is restored. Anybody who has ever had a stuck joint and has been unable to move properly knows exactly what follows the adjustment – relief. True, depending on the situation – how severe the structural shift is, how long it has been festering and how “hot” or acute it is – determines how complete the relief will be.

Does there have to be a sound?

No. Many of the correction techniques we use do not have any popping or cracking. They can be just as effective. It is NOT important to hear a sound when you get adjusted. It IS important that there was movement and the movement was in the right direction (toward more normal structure).

Should I be alarmed if I hear my joints popping after I leave the office?

Sometimes people are concerned when they leave they complain that they feel their back “popping” back out of place when they get into the car. Not to worry, what they most likely feel and hear is the other joints around the area finally being able to move more freely again. The added range of gained from your recent adjustment has now allowed areas of the spine a more normal range of motion, which can sometimes cause them to cavitate.

Please AVOID popping or cracking your own spine.

Intentionally twisting or cranking on your neck or back can be harmful. Curious as to why? We wrote a whole post about it.

Generally “popping” and “cracking” during an adjustment or as you’re going about your day is nothing to be alarmed about.  However, if the sound is accompanied by pain, weakness, joint laxity, or discomfort then a consultation with a medical professional would be advised. If you have any questions about a sound your body may be making, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Symptoms – Looking Below the Surface

Remember the iceberg that sunk the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic? It turns out that icebergs can be an excellent analogy to explain your health. 

The TIP of the iceberg is symbolic of symptoms or pain, such as:

  • Back & Neck pain
  • Sciatica
  • Headaches & Migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Muscular tension
  • Numbness & tingling

By the time obvious symptoms rise to the surface, it’s usually a sign of a larger problem. The danger here is symptoms can come and go depending on different stresses and lifestyle choices (repetitive mental & physical stress, inadequate nutrition and movement, etc.) that are put on the body. In the iceberg analogy, the underlying cause sitting BELOW the surface is contributing to what’s ABOVE the surface (symptoms).

Iceburg Analogy for health problems. Symptoms sit above the surface including neck pain, back pain, headaches, migraines, sciatica, and fatigue. The underlying cause of pain and symptoms include not meeting the body's requirements like moving, eating well, taking care of your mental health, and nervous system health with chiropractic.

If symptoms become more frequent, appear to be getting worse, or lasting longer is typically when we pay attention and perhaps take action. This thinking is REACTIVE, which is how the average American approaches their health (for many different reasons).


An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure – Benjamin Franklin


Whether you have symptoms or not, it’s never too late to start being PROACTIVE and looking below the surface for what could be the UNDERLYING CAUSE of the dysfunction of your body before a crisis occurs.

The underlying cause of many health issues usually boils down to failing to adequately meet one or more of your body’s requirements (FUEL, MIND, MOVE, BRAIN/BODY CONNECTION). Read more about these requirements here.

Drs. Megan and Adam focus on optimizing your BRAIN/BODY CONNECTION through NeuroStructural Correction. Many times when people visit us, their examination reveals significant structural abnormalities within their spine that is preventing their nerve system (brain-body connection) to function appropriately. This can contribute to secondary issues (symptoms). Sometimes those structural abnormalities are in areas where there are no symptoms.  

This is the power of our NeuroStructural Examination; it helps to determine your current level of nervous system function and to see if a core problem exists that we can help with. When it comes to this checkup, doing it NOW can help locate and correct hidden problems before they worsen. How you feel is NOT an accurate measure of your health. 

This examination uses objective tools to measure your body’s structure and function. We help you create a plan to optimize both so you can not only feel better, but most importantly function better. This allows your body to stay strong, resist breakdown, and keep major issues from surfacing as often.

If you’d like help investigating the status of your BRAIN/BODY CONNECTION, don’t hesitate to contact us. It’s NEVER too early to start being proactive about your health.


Low Back Issues? Avoid These Exercises & Positions

Many people visit our office due to low back issues (sciatica, low back, hip or buttock pain). As our current patients know, our job is to identify and correct any structural abnormalities in the spine, over a period of time, to reduce obstruction on the nervous system. This allows the body to function properly, often reducing the likelihood of the issue persisting. In addition, we advise on other recommendations that complement this healing process, which usually includes adding, altering, or avoiding something.

Our discussion this week looks at exercises and positions to avoid (see photo below) if you’re having an unhappy lumbar disc (a flexion-intolerant lower back). All of these movements include a forward bend of the lower back. These exercises could be harmful to you, slowing your healing.

Movements, exercises, and stretches to avoid if having low back issues recommended by a West Des Moines chiropractor. Forward fold, toe touch, figure 4 stretch, child's pose, sit up, crunch, knee to chest, lying leg press, cycling.

Yes, these movements may feel good in the moment by stretching your tight muscles. However, your structure, nerves, and discs could be irritated or damaged by the movements.

Injured discs do heal, but the process is often frustratingly slow because discs have limited amount of blood supply. You may need to be more careful with your movements for up to a year to keep from ‘picking the scab’ while you’re healing. 

What’s not pictured?

As we discuss in our complimentary consultation, a big reason WHY structural issues develop within the spine is because of repetitive stresses we put our bodies through from day to day. Here are some things to keep in mind as it relates to low back issues and forward flexion:

TOO MUCH SITTING. Sitting requires you being in a forward flexed position for long periods of time. If you spend much of your day sitting (like at work), make sure you’re incorporating frequent (at minimum 2x/hour) movement breaks to counteract long periods of flexion.

TYING YOUR SHOES. Avoid standing or sitting and bending all the way forward to reach your feet. Instead, once your shoe is on, either stand or sit and bring your foot up on a chair or stool. Keep your back straight while you bend slightly forward to tie your shoes.

GETTING UP AND DOWN FROM A CHAIR. Scoot to the front edge of the chair. Widen your base and place your stronger leg slightly in front. Place your hands on your upper thighs. Keep your back straight (not rounded) as your bend forward at the hip until your butt comes off the chair. Push through your heels and use your glutes and leg muscles to push yourself up to standing.

When sitting down, do this in reverse. Avoid twisting at the waist as your lower down to look behind you as you sit.

YOUR ATTITUDE. When you’re dealing with a low back issue, you may feel afraid to move or exercise for fear that you will hurt yourself. Unfortunately, NOT moving contributes to the deconditioning that is so common with chronic pain. Okay it with your provider first, but more often than not, simply walking for 10-15 minutes facilitates stronger circulation, pumping nutrients into soft tissues and draining toxins.

Even if you DON’T have active pain or symptoms, it’s still important to be mindful of how to safely enter a forward flexed position. Think about hinging at your hip and using your large buttock muscles instead of the small muscles (extensors) in your low back to return to an upright position.

In addition to avoiding the positions above, it’s critical to identify and correct any structural abnormalities in the spine to reduce obstruction on the nervous system. This allows the body to function properly, reducing the likelihood of a low back issue persisting.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today for help correcting any underlying structural abnormalities so you can get on with living your best life!


Chiropractic and Ear Infections

D is for (Immune) Defense

How are You Doing?

How are you doing? If you answered “Fine,” then you might want to watch our latest blogcast that explains why “fine,” can be detrimental to your health.

 

What Kind of Doctors are We?

At Keystone Chiropractic, are we back doctors? bone doctors? spine doctors? nerve doctors? Watch our most recent BlogCast to learn more!

 

Summer Health Series: Part 3

Learn tips about staying healthy and avoiding injury while performing yard work this summer!

 

Summer Health Series: Part 2

Watch as Dr. Adam discusses advice for your vacation this summer.

 

Summer Health Series: Part 1

 

Today, Dr. Adam begins The Summer Health Series. We’ll be talking about how to avoid the effects of sun exposure, overheating, and dehydration.

5 Warm Up Exercises for Running

Dr. Adam walks you through 5 easy but essential warm up exercises to perform before you start your run. Whether you’re doing a 5k or a marathon, these can help you prevent injury and recover better.

Strategies for a Bullet Proof Immune System: Part 4 (Brain-Body)

We’ve reached the final and most important requirement for boosting immunity and overall performance, a clear, unobstructed Brain-Body connection.

Strategies for a Bullet Proof Immune System: Part 3 (RECHARGE)

RECHARGE(ing) your mind is a continuation of strategies for boosting your body’s immune system and overall performance. Today, Dr. Adam discusses the 3rd requirement which involves caring for your mental and emotional health.

 

Safe Snow Shoveling

Dr. Adam explains strategies for performing safe snow shoveling and avoiding injury this winter.

 

Supplements We Recommend and Why

Supplements we Recommend

Have you ever wondered what supplements we recommend? Chances are, you’re reading this post because you are concerned about your health, would like to live a healthy life, and are open to supplementation.

If you’ve ever entered a specialty grocery store and walked past the vitamin section, it can be difficult to know which ones you should pay attention to. At Keystone Chiropractic, we highly recommend that our patients get as many vitamins and minerals as possible through whole foods.

This can be difficult. Below you’ll find the Big Three that will give you the biggest bang for your buck so that your body has all that it requires to function optimally. These three also happen to support neurological health, which is what our main focus is on at Keystone Chiropractic.

#1 of the Supplements we Recommend: Omega 3 (Fish Oil)

The first of the supplements we recommend is omega 3, or Fish oil. It contains the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA and is found in animal-based foods, especially marine life like Wild Salmon. Many people do not consume enough marine sources of Omega 3, which is why we often recommend supplementation.

Why You Need It:

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for the maintenance of cardiovascular health, immune system function, and joint comfort. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the health of neuronal tissues, including the brain, and have been shown to play a role in both mood and cognition. Emerging evidence also indicates that Omega-3 fatty acids may be important in the maintenance of healthy body composition.

How Much?

Aim to get 1 to 3 grams of EPA and DHA daily. Quality is huge when it comes to fish oil because reports show that many fish oil brands are contaminated, rancid, or don’t meet label claims.

#2 of the Supplements we Recommend: Vitamin D3

Mountains of research show that achieving healthy Vitamin D levels is one of the easiest ways to prevent disease, promote long-term health, and reduce injury and illness rates. Vitamin D is the second of the supplements we recommend.

Why You Need It:

Most people are Vitamin D deficient because the best way to receive adequate amounts is via direct sun exposure. That is hard to achieve in Iowa between September and May because the sun is farther away from the Northern Hemisphere and most people don’t receive adequate amounts of direct sunlight.

Tons of research link Vitamin D deficiency to heightened risk of heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline, and obesity. Here’s a few more reasons why everyone should get enough D:

  • Necessary for a robust immune system
  • Protective against musculoskeletal injuries and fractures
  • Likelihood of having depression and other brain/mood disorders is significantly higher in D-deficient people
  • Linked with fighting numerous cancers including lung, breast, colon, and prostate.
How Much?

It’s important to check blood Vitamin D levels periodically due to seasonal differences.

In order to maintain Vitamin D levels from sun exposure, you need to be in direct sunlight for 20 minutes daily between 10 am and 2 pm (without sunscreen).

Supplementing with 35 IU/pound of body weight or approximately 5,000 IU daily in order to achieve a blood level between 50 and 80 ng/ml is the easy alternative if you have limited sun exposure.

#3 of the Supplements we Recommend: Probiotics

Probiotics are tiny bacteria that naturally occur in the gastrointestinal tract. This is the third of the supplements we recommend. When consumed in adequate amounts, there are many health benefits. If you do not eat many probiotic-rich foods like kefir, fermented vegetables, kombucha, etc. then supplementation is necessary.

Why You Need Them:

Digestion & GI Health – Probiotics aid digestion and absorption of nutrients in the gut. Not only do probiotics ensure your body can absorb vitamins, minerals, and protein from food, but they also affect the production of neurotransmitters that are made in the GI tract, allowing for better cognition and brain health.

Detoxification – Probiotics displace harmful bacteria and improve the body’s ability to get rid of waste products. They help prevent damage to the liver and other organs due to alcohol, antibiotics, or painkillers like Tylenol.

What to Look For:

An important consideration when choosing a probiotic is that the supplement you buy contains live microflora bacteria. Many procucts are only guaranteed at the time of manufacture. In other words, the majority may have died off by the time you take them.

It’s important that you get products containing the species and strain that have been researched to have worthwhile outcomes. Here’s a few examples of what to look for:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Bifidobacterum lactis
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus

Did You Know?

The supplements above are what we have available for our patients and are of the very highest quality.  However, we do not recommend these products so that we can force people to purchase them from our practice.  We are recommending these products because they are at the level of quality that satisfies our requirements.

For example, the Omega-3 Fish oil we carry is molecularly-distilled (free of toxins and chemicals,) and at the level of concentration that have you taking less pills per day, with greater benefits than other fish oil supplements available at ANY retail outlet. That includes Whole Foods and Trader Joes.  When most of our patients have compared the quality of the supplements that they were previously taking with the products that we have available in our practice, virtually every person saw that they were getting greater quality and better value taking our products versus their old brand.


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Strategies for a Bullet Proof Immune System: Part 2 (MOVE)

The body is complex, but health and boosting your immune system don’t have to be. In Part 2, we review the 4 fundamental requirements of the body and discuss MOVE.

 

Strategies for a Bullet Proof Immune System: Part 1 (EAT)

Learn about the Fundamental Requirements of the body, and strategies for a bullet proof immune system and a higher expression of health. system. In this BlogCast, Dr. Adam discusses the first requirement, EAT.

 

Alleviating Asthma with Structural Chiropractic

Have you struggled with wheezing, coughing, and fatigue from asthma? Learn how Structural Chiropractic may be part of the solution for you.

 

Prevent Injuries in Young Athletes

Learn steps which can be taken to boost your child’s athletic performance and prevent injuries this fall sports season.

 

Surviving Desk Work

Check out these simple changes you can make to survive desk work and prevent further breakdown of your health.

 

Eat Fat to Lose Fat

Personalized Care; Quality Results

Keystone Chiropractic provides personalized care help You get the highest quality results.  Structural chiropractic care works best when patients actively participate in the process.

 

What to Do About Spring Sneezes and Allergies

Allergies and Immune System response have an intimate relationship with the Nervous System.  Learn how Structural Chiropractic care may boost immunity and lessen the severity of allergies.

 

Struggling with Your Baby’s Digestive Problems?

Pediatric digestive problems affect millions of infants each year.  Learn how structural chiropractic may help.

We Are Different (and We Like it That Way)

At Keystone Chiropractic, we are different from the many conventional chiropractors in the area.  Learn how our focus, NeuroStructural Correction, stands out from the pack.

 

 

 

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

What Happens During a Comprehensive Structural Examination

At Keystone Chiropractic we TEST and don’t guess with your health.  Learn more about our examination process and how it differs from conventional chiropractic.

 

I Must Have Slept Wrong

Optimize Your Workouts in the New Year

Learn tips to optimize your workouts in the New Year and avoid unnecessary soreness and fatigue.

 

Give the Gift of Health

Consider giving the Gift of Health this Holiday Season.

 

 

Contact Keystone Chiropractic TODAY to purchase a Complete Structural Examination, and check out our list of Preferred Partners.

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.

Your aOS; the Importance of Your Nervous System

How important is your Nervous System?  It’s the system that controls and coordinates EVERY function in your body. It is vital to the quality and quantity of your life.

 

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!

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Is “Cracking” my Neck Bad for Me?

Take time to learn about why self-manipulation may have harmful effects to your spine and nervous system.

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.

Are You Suffering from Migraines in West Des Moines?

Do you or someone you know suffer from debilitating migraines?  Dr. Megan gives you insight as to how Neurostructural Chiropractic care, here in West Des Moines, may lead to lasting resolution of these headaches when other conventional treatments have not worked.

Easier, Healthier Pregnancy in West Des Moines

Dr. Megan discusses the 3 P’s of pregnancy which can help you throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery in West Des Moines.

 

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.

 

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Backpack Tips for Back to School in West Des Moines

These tips from Keystone Chiropractic can help reduce the risk of your child developing secondary problems from backpack wear as they head back to school in the greater Des Moines area.

 

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.

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Concussions: They’re Happening in West Des Moines Schools Too

If concussions are happening in professional sports, they’re happening at your child’s school in West Des Moines, too.

 

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!

 

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Gain an Athletic Edge

Learn how to reach the Next Level of your athletic performance in West Des Moines.

 

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?

 

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Answering Your Questions in West Des Moines: Dowager’s Hump

This week we describe Dowager’s Hump, its causes, and how it may be corrected.

 

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.

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NeuroStructural Correction vs Conventional Manipulation

The most recent video from Keystone Chiropractic discusses the difference between NeuroStructural Chiropractic and conventional manipulation in West Des Moines.

Choosing the Best Chiropractor for You in West Des Moines

Finding the right Chiropractor for YOU can be difficult.  Watch these great tips on choosing the Best Chiropractor for you in West Des Moines.

 

 

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.