Archive for the ‘back health’ Category


Your Posture and Your Emotions

June 10, 2011

depressed posture

Want to try an experiment? Slump down right now, wherever you are, into a hunched posture with your back bent and your spine collapsed.

Once you’re all hunched and slumped, try to do some challenging task. Multiple studies have found that people who are placed in a slumped posture are less likely to succeed in challenging tasks. In fact, they’re likely to exhibit signs of “helplessness” and “defeat.”

Some studies have found that observers are also likely to decide that someone with poor posture is depressed. Worse yet, people who have been asked to assume a slumped posture are more likely to report that they feel sad, depressed, or defeated.

We’re talking here about people with normal posture and normal emotional conditions who are asked to slump or hunch. They’re not asked to think about sad things or to pretend to be depressed, but they end up feeling and behaving as though they were sad.

It goes the other way, too. Depressed people are more likely to walk in a slumped posture with side to side movement. Playing sad music causes people to change their gait to this sad way of walking.

What happens outside of experimental situations? Sad people are more likely to exhibit poor posture. People with poor posture are more likely to feel sad. We may have a vicious circle here.

Poor posture has physical consequences as well, leading to back pain and stress.

Call Innovative Spine Rehab at (501) 221-6009 to schedule a consultation where you can learn solutions to your posture problems.


On Your Feet or On Your Seat? Health Dangers of Sitting Too Much

May 12, 2011

We’ve talked about the effects on your back health of being on your feet all day at work. What about the effects of sitting all day?

Usually when we think of sedentary life and its dangers, we’re thinking about not getting enough exercise. But people who sit all day at work may be facing some other risks — even if they get the recommended 30 minutes a day of cardio.

Stanford researchers think that the problem lies in the postural muscles — the muscles that hold you up rather than the ones that allow you to move. These are the inner muscles of the back, legs, neck, and hips, the muscles nearest the spine. These are the deepest of the core muscles, and you don’t usually feel them working.

It’s easy to ignore them. When we sit for six or more hours a day, we’re ignoring those muscles, and it seems to have an effect on our health.

The normal function of these muscles when we move seems to affect a number of other body functions:

  • blood circulation in general
  • glucose and fat regulation
  • cholesterol processing
  • heart rate and blood flow rate
  • blood flow to the legs in particular

“Your body shuts down on a metabolic level,” says one medical professional who studies this issue.

It is possible that sitting for more than four hours increases the risk of a wide range of problems ranging from diabetes to arthritis, stroke and heart disease. Some researchers have found that the risk of death from all causes is greatly increased by jobs requiring prolonged sitting.

These results hold true even for people who hit the gym before they go to spend eight hours in an office chair. What about those who sit and watch TV for another six or eight hours outside of the six or eight hours they spend sitting at work? Their risks are even greater.

If your work environment allows it, use a stability ball as your chair or a standing desk. For some tasks, a treadmill makes just as good a work station as a desk.

If your office doesn’t make this kind of change practical, get in the habit of walking while you talk on the phone, chat with coworkers, or think about problems. Run up and down the stairs to talk with colleagues instead of emailing. Ideally, you’ll be up and moving for ten minutes out of every hour.

Get in the habit of standing up and moving around throughout the day.


Arkansas Spine Health

April 29, 2011

Arkansas spine health

How do Arkansans stack up when it comes to spine health?

Here are some facts to consider:

  • In Arkansas, 24% of work-related injuries requiring time off from work are back problems.
  • The average number of days out of work was 6 in Arkansas, 7 nationally.
  • Most likely to hurt their backs? Service workers.
  • Most common type of injury? Sprains and strains.
  • Falls, overexertion, and lifting caused the most back injuries.
  • In the nation overall, work-related back injuries declined by more than 1/3 during the first decade of the 20th century. Arkansas saw about a 10% decrease in the same time.
  • During the same time period, the amount spent on treating back injuries has increased by 65%.
  • Spinal cord injuries are as frequent in Arkansas as in the rest of the country, but we have more auto accidents leading to injuries — about 50% more.
  • Top causes of spinal cord injuries in Arkansas: auto accidents, falls, diving, and gunshot wounds.

All in all, we’re pretty typical, but we could improve. If you’re ready to improve our scorecard as a state by improving your own back health, contact Innovative Spine Rehab.


On Your Feet? What It Does to Your Spine

April 22, 2011

There are lots of reasons for being on your feet for hours at a time: parties or clubbing that goes on till late, singing in choir, working in retail or a factory line.

However it happens, the result is likely to be the same. Your back is killing you!

If you know you’ll be standing for a long time, choose comfortable shoes. Put one foot up on a step occasionally to rest. Stretch your legs and feet. Move as much as possible, even if only from one foot to another.

When you get home, your inclination may be to plop down on the sofa. Go ahead, but be sure to take some time to stretch out, too.

Above all, remember that just about everything that affects your body affects your spine. Your weight, your exercise routine, your sleeping habits — the spine is so integral to your body functioning that everything you do has an effect on your spine health. That means that taking care of your overall health will help when you have to be on your feet all day (or night).


Your Abs and Your Back

April 8, 2011

We talked about the importance of strengthening the glutes to help support the back. The other muscles that serve your spine are your abs. Many of us are aware of the importance of strong abdominal muscles to keep our backs healthy and comfortable, but the relationships among the muscles of your core can complicate the way you work out.

In fact, working your abs the wrong way can actually hurt your back.

It’s all about the tilt. Get down on all fours and arch your back up like a cat. You’ll have a forward tilt to your pelvis. Now lift up your head and arch up in the other direction like a dog wanting to play — that’s a backward tilt. In between the two is the neutral position that is best for your spine.

When you do crunches, leg lifts, or the old fashioned bicycle, it’s important that you keep your spine in that neutral position. If you arch your back, you’re not working the abs, but just the hip flexors, and you’re putting a strain on your spine.

For these exercises, as well as the plank and other ab workouts, engaging the abdominals is key. They’ll support the spine and get stronger for daily life, too.


The Muscles to Work on for Back Health

April 1, 2011


We talk a lot about how to cope with back pain and how to avoid back injury, but when you take the long view of back health, you have to think lower. Lower back pain is the most common form of spine and back suffering, with nearly 80% of adults experiencing at least some lower back pain during their lives, but you really have to think even lower than that.

Glutes. The gluteus maximus muscles are the ones that support the lower back. Strong glutes will make it far less likely that you’ll experience pain in the lower back — you can be part of the lucky 20% who never do.

Strengthen the glutes with these exercises:

  • squats
  • lunges
  • deadlifts

It’s important to follow correct form with these exercises, so we recommend visiting a physical therapist to learn the correct (and therefore effective) way to do these moves. Your physical therapist can develop a complete workout for you which takes into account your medical history, any current pain, and your goals for the future.

Weak abdominal muscles put extra strain on the lower back, especially if there is extra weight to support, so spend some time training those muscles as well. A balanced workout incorporating strength training, flexibility, and cardiovascular workouts is always your best bet.


Vitamin D and Your Back

February 17, 2011

A century ago, children in America were threatened by rickets, a crippling bone disease caused by Vitamin D deficiency. Children who lived in dark tenements and worked in mills all day didn’t get much sunshine or fresh vegetables, so they suffered from Vitamin D deficiencies. We get Vitamin D from fatty fish, fortified milk and cereals, and sunshine which allows the body to manufacture its own Vitamin D. It’s essential to proper absorption of calcium into the bones. Without it, children ended up with horribly malformed legs and constant pain.

An end to child labor and the fortification of milk and cereal solved the public health problem of rickets in the 20th century. Now, with kids and young adults drinking soda instead of milk for breakfast and spending less time  outdoors than in front of screens, Vitamin D deficiency is back.

Not only for kids, either. We’re more careful about sun exposure, more sedentary and less likely to spend time outdoors, many of us avoid dairy products or the fats that are required for fat-soluble vitamins like D, and frankly we’re not all getting our leafy greens, either. In adults, lack of Vitamin D leads to osteoporosis and weakened bones — with all the problems that entails.

Get outside, have a tuna sandwich and a glass of milk for lunch, and maybe ask your doctor about Vitamin D supplements. Your spine will thank you.