Blog - CORE Chiropractic in the Energy Corridor

3 Ways to Improve Posture At Home

improve posture

The most common reason people visit a chiropractic office is pain.  Whether it is neck pain, lower back pain or headaches, pain is generally the driving force for someone to finally see a chiropractor.  In my experience, patients rarely know what caused their pain to begin.  They usually just wake up with pain, or bent over to pick something off the ground and their back “went out.”  Sometimes the pain has just gradually built over time with no real cause that they can think of.  The times when pain is the result of a trauma, such as a car accident or a fall, are far less common than when “the pain just came out of nowhere.”  

In today’s society, posture is becoming a bigger and bigger problem.  We now spend more time sitting in front of computers at work, sitting on the couch and watching TV at home, or surfing the internet on our smart phone than ever before.  Our bodies were not made for this type of lifestyle.  In my opinion, this is the reason more and more people are suffering from neck and lower back pain.  Pain just doesn’t appear out of nowhere, but poor posture over time can lead to these problems.  In this blog post, I’ll give you simple things that you can do at home to help improve your posture, relieve pain and supplement your chiropractic care.

Posture Exercises

The single most important thing that you can do to help improve your posture is to start doing posture exercises on a regular basis.  Ideally, performing posture exercises daily is best, but three times a week should be enough for you to notice a difference in your posture over time.  You’ll have to stick to them though.  It’s like going to the gym, you can’t lift weights once and expect to look like a bodybuilder, right?  Similarly, just doing posture exercises once or twice isn’t going to make a big difference.  Think about how many hours you sit in front of a computer at work, or how much time you spend on your phone.  It will take time to make corrections to posture, but with consistent work, it can be done.

Our website is full of exercises and things that you can do to help improve your posture.  A good place to start is with our Level 1 Exercises that can be found here: www.westhoustonchiropractor.com/level1  The seated posture routine is a great way to start strengthening the postural muscles in your neck and upper back, get you sitting up straighter and help start undoing all of those hours you spend seated at your desk.  Once you have consistently been performing these exercises, we can add in lower back and core strengthening exercises that will also help improve posture, but help relieve lower back pain as well.

Neck Wedge

When looking at a lateral cervical x-ray, or a side view of the neck, there should be a C-shaped curve that measures between 30-35 degrees.  However, when I take this x-ray on patients in my office, I often find that this curve is less than 10 degrees, or even worse, a negative measurement!  In almost all cases, this decreased normal curve is not the result of a trauma, such as a car accident or fall, but  is usually due to poor posture over time.  Almost everything we do on a daily basis negatively affects our normal cervical curve.  We sit for 8-10 hours a day staring at a computer screen at work, we look down at our smart phones when we aren’t sitting at a computer, and then when we go to bed we sleep in improper positions.  All of this contributes to poor posture.

In order to improve posture and start to rebuild this curve of the neck, I recommend all of my patients use a neck wedge, in addition to regular posture exercises.  The neck wedge is not a pillow, so you do not sleep on it, but we have seen that patients that use the neck wedge on a consistent basis, about 15 minutes per day, can rebuild their cervical curve over time.  The neck wedge works by reversing all of our daily activities.  It teaches you to bring your head back, instead of leaning forward, thus improving your posture.  Not only is the neck wedge great to help improve posture, but it also helps relieve neck pain and headaches as well.  Directions on how to use the neck wedge can be found at the link mentioned above, and you can buy one during your next visit to our office.

Foam Rollers and Lacrosse Balls

When we have poor posture, our joints and muscles tend to get locked up.  While chiropractic adjustments are a great way to help keep your joints moving properly, foam rollers and lacrosse balls can help loosen up your muscles.  If you have poor posture, there is a good chance that you also have numerous “knots” or trigger points in the muscles of your neck and upper back.  These trigger points are formed when fascia, the tissue that surrounds and connects our muscles, becomes irritated and “knots” up.  These trigger points are usually very tender to the touch.

Foam rolling is a great way to help relax the fascia and relieve trigger points.  The theory is that by rolling over the trigger point, the fascia and muscle tissue is relaxed and can return to its normal state.  A foam roller is especially beneficial for large muscles such as the gluteal muscles or hamstrings.  A lacrosse ball works the same way, but is smaller so it works better between the shoulder blades and into the neck.  I recommend almost all of my patients to use foam rollers and lacrosse balls to help eliminate pain and improve posture.  Here’s a tip: when using either a foam roller or a lacrosse ball, find the area that it hurts to work on, stay there for about 30 seconds, and you should notice that the pain greatly reduces.  You can find videos on how to foam roll on our website at: www.westhoustonchiropractor.com/level2

I hope this blog post has been helpful in giving you some things to do at home to help improve your posture.  But don’t forget, regular chiropractic adjustments are also important to make sure your spine is aligned correctly and moving properly.  Regular adjustments and the above recommendations will help improve your posture and keep you feeling great!

5 Tips to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions From Causing Headaches in 2018

new years headache

It’s that time of year when everyone has made their New Year’s resolutions and are working hard to try to keep them.  Some people find keeping a resolution to be just too stressful and have already given up on one.  Hopefully you’re not one of those.  Others think they will not be able to keep a resolution, so they don’t even bother making one at all.  Hopefully you are not in that group either.  

Studies have consistently shown that those that set goals, like new year resolutions, tend to be far more successful than those who don’t. But how can you keep these resolutions from causing you headaches throughout the year?  In this blog post I’ll give you five simple tips to keeping you on track to meet your goals in 2018.  And if you haven’t made a new year resolution yet, it’s not to late!  This post can also help you decide on what you would like to work on in the year to come.

Tip #1 – Don’t Set Too Many Goals!

This is one of the most common traps that people fall into when trying to make a new year’s resolution.  They just try to do too much.  Soon they can’t seem to keep up with everything, get frustrated and give up.  Don’t let this me you in 2018!  

When you set too many goals, you spread yourself too thin, and it makes it difficult to achieve what you started aiming for in the year.  I would recommend making five goals maximum for the year.  This will allow you to stay focused, work towards each one, and get the results that you want this year.  

For some, five goals may be way too many, try three, or even one.  As I mentioned in the introduction, people that set goals are more successful than those who don’t.  Setting even a single new year’s resolution this year gives you something to shoot toward making 2018 a successful year.  Without a goal, how do you know that this year was a success when you look back on 2018 next year?

Tip #2 – Choose Your Own Goal

To some of you, this might seem really obvious.  Why would you ever set a goal that wasn’t your own?  I think most people would be surprised how often people set goals in hopes of making their friends, family, or coworkers happy.  Setting goals for others is a sure fire way to disappointment.  Even if you hit your goal, are you really going to be excited about?  Is it something that you will want to celebrate?

When making your new year’s resolutions, be sure that it is something that you actually want to accomplish.  By making your goal for yourself, you are much more likely to work hard towards reaching it, and you’ll have more fun getting there.  Then, when reach your goal, it will be much more fun to celebrate it (we’ll get to that in our next tip).

Tip #3 – Write it Down and Make A Plan

Don’t just come up with a few goals for the year, and keep them in your head.  Write them down and keep them in a place that you know that you’ll be able to see them on a regular basis. The more often you are reminded of your goals, the more likely you are to reach them.   A great idea for this is to use a vision board.  If you aren’t familiar with vision boards, it’s basically a way to always keep your goals on your mind.  You write down your goals and post them somewhere that you will see them on a daily basis.  The great thing about vision boards is they can be made however you want to make them.  You can put them on a large poster board or a note card.  You can even add inspirational pictures or quotes that either remind you of your goals or inspire you to reach them. The doctors at CORE make vision boards each year to help with our work and personal goals.

For some of you, your new year’s resolution might just seem too big.  If that’s the case, break it down into smaller pieces, and set a quarterly goal.  For example, if you want to lose 50 pounds in 2018, start with a smaller goal, such as you want to lose 15 pounds by the start of April.  By breaking your goals into more manageable chunks, they seem more reachable and not so far off.  Then, when you reach your quarterly goal, celebrate!  Reward yourself with something that you would really like, just don’t go overboard and make sure that by rewarding yourself you aren’t moving yourself too far away from your long term goal.  If you didn’t reach your quarterly goal, keep reading, I’ll give you some help in tip #5.

Tip #4 – Involve Friends and Family

Earlier I talked about setting your goals for yourself and not for others, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t involve your friends and family when it comes to your goals.  Although you shouldn’t set your goals to make others happy, friends and family are a great source of encouragement and accountability.  They can cheer you on and help you celebrate when you near a goal, and they can also help you reach them as well. Having an accountability partner makes sure you stay on track for your goals, and makes it more likely that you’ll reach them as well.  It’s even more helpful if you can find someone that has similar goals as you, so that you can both work together to reach them.  

Tip #5 – If You Get Off Track, Forgive Yourself and Keep Going!

Far too often people make a goal, start working hard towards the goal, have a minor setback and then just give up.  Don’t let this be you in 2018!  If everyone just gave up every time they skipped a workout, cheated on their diet, or failed to reach their quarterly sales goal, there wouldn’t be any successful people in the world.  We all fail and get off track of our goals at some point or another.  When this happens, don’t beat yourself up about!  Just forgive yourself, and get back on track towards your goals.

As a bonus tip, if you start getting stressed out and your new year’s resolutions start to cause stress headaches, don’t forget to get adjusted.  Chiropractic care is a great way to not only help relieve the headaches that stress might cause, but it is a great source of stress relief as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had patients come into the office under huge amounts of stress and leave feeling great and relaxed.  So, don’t forget to get adjusted this year either!

I hope this post has given you some tips on how to make 2018 your most successful year yet.  If you’ve already made your new year’s resolutions, stick to them and good luck!  If you haven’t made any yet, now is a great time to start.  

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