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Everyday activities that might be causing your neck pain

Being a massage therapist is more than just treating the issue at hand. You may think we are just being chatty if we ask you a few questions, but really we are trying to understand the bigger picture of your lifestyle and what can be causing your pain or tension. Here are a few everyday activities that can make a big impact on pain and posture.

1. Chewing Gum

While gum chewing isn’t a health threatening habit to have, over time it can make an impact on the muscles around our mouth. Our bodies weren’t designed to be chewing for hours at a time, so when you chew gum it is possible to overwork the jaw and surrounding muscles in the neck and head. I encourage my clients to be mindful of the time they spend chewing, and make a note if they are getting tension headaches related to chewing (especially during stressful times). Why not take a “gum detox” and just see what happens?

2. The Handbag

Handbag, or shoulder bag as it usually ends up being, is a main cause for shoulder and neck pain. Your body works really hard to keep you balanced when you are carrying 5kgs on one side, and has to make changes to the alignment of the spine to keep you centred. Many of my clients will take a purse, laptop bag and gym back to work and come in with shoulder pain every single month. While it might not look super trendy, a backpack with a chest/stomach support strap (this is very important!) is very effective in distributing the weight and reducing back and shoulder pain.

3. Your Pillow

When was the last time you changed your pillow? Do you love your pillow?

We spend 5+ hours a night attached to it, so it had better be treating us well! The main rule of thumb when purchasing a pillow is that you should feel comfortable on it. This especially applies to density. As for shape of the pillow, a higher pillow will be better for side sleepers (so your neck isn’t angled to the side), medium for back sleepers (ideal sleeping position, ideal posture), and low for stomach sleepers. If you are a stomach sleeper and are experiencing regular neck pain, there is a good chance your sleeping “posture” is contributing to that pain. It’s a hard habit to break, but I would encourage you to try sleeping on your back if possible (even for a couple hours at the beginning of your sleep cycle).

We stock several types of pillows at the clinic – check them our next time you’re in and we can answer any questions you might have.

4. Grinding of Teeth

Some people have a subconscious habit of grinding or clenching their teeth when they are stressed, or when they sleep. Solutions can be discussed with your dentist, but something as simple as a bite plate worn at night can reduce jaw tension, pressure on fascial muscles and prevent damage to teeth. If you are a regular “clencher”, perhaps at work or when you are doing sport, both massage therapists and chiropractors can help to relieve tension in the face by performing soft tissue work to the affected muscles.

While the list isn’t extensive, these common actions and habits can go undiscussed for years at a time and end up contributing to huge amounts of tension build up in the neck and head. A simple change can create a world of difference, so if you are curious about making any of the changes suggested here,  just try it out for a week and see how you feel.

 

Pelvic Floor Pregnancy

Did you know Chiropractic care does impact pelvic floor control

 Pelvic Floor Chiropractic

Just Published, Ground-Breaking Results: Chiropractic And Pelvic Floor Control

Story at a glance:

  1. Adjusting pregnant women appears to relax the pelvic floor muscles at rest.
  2. This may mean that chiropractic care could be of benefit to pregnant women, as it may help them have a natural vaginal delivery.
  3. The pelvic floor muscles have active roles in pregnancy and childbirth, as well as in spinal stabilisation.  When the pelvic floor muscles are damaged or stressed over time, health issues like incontinence and vaginal prolapses can crop up, which are problems with massive emotional, physical, social and financial costs across the world and a significant cause of stress for these women.
  4. The primary findings of this study are incredibly encouraging, especially given the fact that quantitatively assessing the effect of spinal adjustment on pelvic floor muscle function has not previously been done.

This is big news for women and chiropractors alike. 

This study [1] demonstrates that chiropractic care has an important impact in pregnancy. It’s just been published and in it Dr. Heidi Haavik and her co-investigators, Dr. Jenny Kruger and Professor Bernadette Murphy, show that adjusting vertebral subluxations alters pelvic floor muscle function.

  • The study demonstrated that adjusting the pregnant women appears to relax the pelvic floor muscles at rest. As there were no changes seen when they adjusted the non-pregnant comparison group, this finding in the pregnant women appears to be an effect unique to pregnancy.
  • This relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles seen after they were adjusted may mean that chiropractic care could be of benefit to pregnant women, as it may help them have a natural vaginal delivery.
  • A secondary interesting finding of this study was that the non-pregnant chiropractic students in the comparison study were able to contract their pelvic floor muscles to a degree previously seen only in elite athletes. We don’t yet know exactly why, but a possible explanation for this is that they were chiropractic students who were regularly getting checked and adjusted and this may have been why they had such amazing control over their pelvic floor muscles. It’s also possible this would have a preventative effect against future pelvic floor dysfunction such as stress urinary incontinence! But the researchers say this needs to be followed up with future studies

Why the Pelvic Floor Study Matters

The pelvic floor muscles (the Levator Ani muscle complex) are known to have active roles in pregnancy and childbirth, as well as in spinal stabilisation. When the pelvic floor muscles are damaged or stressed over time, health issues like incontinence and vaginal prolapses can crop up [1]. We know these are problems with massive emotional, physical, social and financial costs across the world and a significant cause of stress for these women.

For a woman in labour, the ability to relax pelvic floor muscles (as well as contract them) to allow the baby to move through the birth canal is incredibly important, especially as the baby crowns.

The primary findings of this study are incredibly encouraging, especially given the fact that quantitatively assessing the effect of spinal adjustment on pelvic floor muscle function has not previously been done.

The researchers studied the women pre and post adjustment.

“We were expecting to see changes on the squeezes and the pushes and all of that, but we saw nothing. But what was really interesting is that the actual (hiatus) hole itself got larger at rest. What it suggests is that those muscles that form the Pelvic Floor rim that holds all our internal organs and that move to give birth to the baby, must have relaxed,” said Heidi Haavik in a recent interview with Spinal Research.

“That alone is extremely exciting…Opening up those muscles is so important to be able to give birth.”

What could this study mean? 

Again, it’s early days in terms of understanding the full impact of this study’s findings. We do know that adjusting women in pregnancy gives them a greater ability to relax the pelvic floor. We also know that something very unusual occurs in chiropractic students who are being adjusted regularly.

For pregnant women, this has the potential to give them a greater degree of control over the pelvic floor muscles, which in turn may make vaginal childbirth easier. At this point, we can only speculate on what the impacts could be in terms of reduced need for medical interventions, or increased well-being of mother and child. But it does show us that chiropractic may be of benefit to pregnant women.

Haavik concedes that these are big ‘ifs.’ Once again, more research is required but the flow on effects could be far reaching.

Read more about this study.

References

[1] Effect of Spinal Manipulation on Pelvic Floor Functional Changes in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women: A Preliminary Study. Haavik, Heidi et al. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics , Volume 39 , Issue 5 , 339 – 347

Orignally posted by Australian Spinal Research Foundation, June 9th 2016
Get through the flu Season (1)

Chiropractic and your Immune System

Chiropractic and your Immune system

For many years, chiropractors have observed in their own practices that their patients sometimes demonstrate improvements of complaints related to immune problems: the disappearance or lessening of allergy symptoms, quicker recovery from or less frequent and severe colds and other respiratory infections, and so on.

The immune system is affected by the nervous system through the connections with the endocrine system, they all work together to create optimal responses for the body to adapt and heal appropriately.  Chiropractic care has been shown to improve immune function by optimising the function of the nervous system through improving the movement of the spinal bones that encase and protect the spinal cord.

There are many ways we can end up with a weakened immune system including stress, lack of sleep, poor digestive health and poor nerve function. There is a building body or research that suggests spinal adjustments can have a positive effect on immune function and helping the body be more resilient to stressors.

One of the most important studies was performed by Dr. Ronald Pero, Ph D., chief of cancer prevention research at New York’s Preventive Medicine Institute and professor medicine at New York University. Dr. Pero measured the immune systems of people under chiropractic care as compared to those in the general population and those with cancer and other serious diseases.

His initial three-year study was of 107 individuals who had been under chiropractic care for five years or more.  The chiropractic patients were found to have a 200% greater immune competence than those people who had not received chiropractic care, and they had 400% greater immune competence than those people with cancer and other serious diseases.  The immune system superiority of those under chiropractic care did not appear to diminish with age.  Dr. Pero stated.

This is one of the most exciting areas of chiropractic. More and more research is pointing to an immune system enhancement effect of the spinal adjustment.

If you find that you get sick a lot, it’s possible that your spinal column may be to blame. Our Chiropractors Ross and Wendy see many patients who come to our Total Health Brookvale office to work on staying healthy. The latest scientific literature confirms what our patients say: chiropractic adjustments can help boost your immune system.