Tight chest muscles and posture

 

A lot of patients that we see here at Dee Why Chiropractic Care have rounded shoulders and a slumped over posture. One of the major contributing factors for this is tightness of the chest muscles.

Not many of us think about maintaining good posture throughout the day and don’t even realise that they are slouching. There are many downsides to slouching and they include fatigue, neck and back pain and headaches. One of the muscles that get tight due to slouching is the pectoral (chest) muscle group.

Tight chest muscles and rounded shoulders are common in individuals that:

  • Spend long hours at a desk
  • Frequently use a computer
  • Spend a lot of time on a phone or tablet
  • Drive a lot
  • Bend, lift and carry often
  • Poor postural habits
  • Lack regular physical activity, stretching and mobility exercises

When we are thinking of someone with good posture, their ear should be in line with their shoulder. But when they have poor posture their head will translate forward, there is an slouch in their mid back and their shoulders roll forward. The main contributor of forward rolling shoulders is the tightness of the chest muscles.

Effect of rounded shoulders:

  • Increased load put on neck joints and muscles
  • Neck and mid back stiffness
  • Increased load on rotator cuff muscles
  • Headaches
  • Low back pain
  • Subacromial impingement

Dee Why Chiropractic Care’s advice

The chest muscles get tight when you sit most of the day because they are in a shortened position. We advise that if you work at a desk to try and stand up every hour and reset your posture.

Stretch out your chest muscles. Stretching the chest muscles is extremely easy and comfortable. Find a door and place you forearms on the doorframe with your arms parallel to the floor. Lean forward until you feel a good stretch in the muscle and hold for 1 minute, breathing normally throughout the stretch.

If your chest muscles are chronically tight they have most likely built up with fibrous tissue within the muscle. Use self-massage devices such as trigger point balls or hand held massagers to break up these adhesions to make it more comfortable before you stretch.

Do mid back extension exercises to counteract the slouched posture and restore movement to the joints that are stiff. The easiest way to do this is to get a foam roller and place it across your back at the level of your shoulder blades.

 

If you have any questions about posture or any of the exercises feel free to contact us.

Start stretching out your chest and correcting your posture today.

What is the ideal spinal alignment?

 

 

A lot of us know what good posture looks like, but what does good spinal alignment look like?

Good posture

When you look around you notice people with good posture and some with not so good posture. Typically when we look at someone with good posture from the front we see that their shoulders and hips are level, and there is no tilt of the body or neck to one side. When looking at them from the side ideally the ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should all be aligned. But what does the spine look like if we took an x-ray of someone with ideal posture?

What the spine looks like with ideal posture

If you look up any picture of the spine on Google images or any anatomy textbook it is always the same. When we look at someone from the front the spine should be nice and straight with no deviation to either side.

However when we are looking at the spine from the side what we want to see is these nice smooth flowing curves in the shape of an “S”. There is going to be a nice curve in each region in the spine; one in the neck, one in the mid back and one in the low back.

What is the ideal spinal alignment?

When the spine in this position it is not only in ideal alignment but it is in its strongest position. The “S” curve in the spine allows for shock absorption against gravity and prevents excess load on the spinal vertebra and surrounding muscles and ligaments.

When the spine is in its optimal alignment it also allows the joints to move freely which means the muscles don’t have to work as hard to move the joints. This is because the joints have the optimal mechanical relationship with each other.

Chiropractors work closely with the intimate relationship between the spine and the nervous system. The spine’s most important role is to protect the nervous system; which is responsible for every function in the human body.

The nervous system consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves that exit the spine to supply the body. If the skull is the helmet that protects the brain, then the spine is the armour that protects the spinal cord and exiting nerves.

A dentist is someone who looks after your oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay. Similarly a chiropractor is someone who aids in preventing spinal decay to protect your spinal cord.

That’s why at Dee Why Chiropractic Care we prescribe what we call “spinal hygiene exercises” to help maintain your spinal health. You brush your teeth at least twice a day (well we assume so) so why don’t you take a few minutes out of your day to do some exercises to look after you spine.

If you have any further questions regarding ideal spinal alignment and spinal hygiene exercises don’t hesitate to contact us.

What sitting for too long does to your spine & health

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care we treat a lot of office workers complaining of headaches, neck and low back pain caused by sitting for prolonged periods without a break!

As humans we are meant to be upright and are built for movement. Anatomically we haven’t changed much from our “hunter/gatherer” ancestors however our lifestyles have quite significantly. A large percentage of the population live very sedentary lives, working hours on end at a desk and getting little exercise.

Lets go through some of the most common conditions associated with sitting for prolonged periods:

Postural changes

When we sit, we tend to slouch. It is almost unavoidable. You can sit with good posture until the muscles fatigue and then you begin to slouch. Over the years our posture adapts to our lifestyles, which can manifest into painful conditions and premature degeneration of our spinal joints.

Weakened core

Having a strong core is important as it plays a major role in protecting the spine. However when we sit, the core is less active/contracted hence there is more pressure put on the spinal joints. Use it or lose it…heard it before? Sitting for too long leads to core muscle deterioration and fat accumulation around the abdomen.

Weak legs and glutes

Our leg muscles are meant to be strong as they are supposed to be supporting our body. As mentioned earlier when we don’t use them, we lose them. So our muscles start to waste and without strong gluts and legs to stabilise us, you are at increased risk of injury.

Muscle imbalances

Muscle imbalances occur with poor posture. Some muscles become tight and some become weak. Ultimately leading to altered mechanics of the body and increased stress on the joints (particularly the spine) that may lead to some painful conditions.

Neck and low back pain

Sitting for prolonged periods with bad posture leads to increased stress on spinal joints; commonly the discs in the low back become compressed. Compressed discs can lead to conditions such as annular tears, pinched nerves and sciatica.

The human head approximately weights about 4-5kg and while we sit our head is typically in the forward position or looking down. What this does is increase the load on the neck and shoulder muscles, as they have to work harder to support the head. This leads to tight shoulders that can lead headaches and changes in the neck curve that can lead to chronic pain and spinal degeneration.

Increased weight

No surprise here. Increased weight increases stress on your joints.

Diabetes and Heart Disease

Studies have shown that people who have sedentary lifestyles have an increased risk of developing diabetes and/or heart disease.

Moving is good for your spine and overall health. Sitting for too long increases the risk of chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. 

What sitting for too long does to your spine & health

Steps to break the cycle:

  • Get out and move
  • Take regular breaks from sitting
  • Have your work station ergonomically assessed
  • Get a standing or adjustable desk
  • Get a back support
  • Stretch tight muscles and strengthen weakened muscles
  • When sitting try your best to sit upright and engage your core
Choosing the right pillow for you

Choosing the right pillow for you

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

Do you constantly wake up in the morning with a stiff or aching neck? Have you considered the reason for your pain is the pillow you are using?

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care it is quite common for people to present to our office with unbearable neck pain after a nights sleep. A lot of the time it is a result of poor sleeping posture and using the incorrect pillow. 

Sleeping posture

When we talk about posture you generally think about maintaining a straight spine whilst going about our day-to-day lives, but it is also very important to address your sleeping posture. When you consider you spend approximately a third of your life in bed it is important to try and maintain the best spinal alignment and support. Poor sleeping habits can create changes in your spinal alignment and your overall posture. This may lead to conditions such as muscular strains, ligament tears and headaches.

Don’t sleep on your stomach

Before we delve into what pillow is right for you, we want to eliminate one of the worst sleeping habits people like to do, which is sleeping on your stomach. We know some people feel comfortable on their stomach but we need to break this habit.

Why is sleeping on your stomach bad?

When we sleep on our stomachs we flatten out our important low back curve that can lead to low back pain. Sleeping on your stomach also makes it harder to breathe and in some studies has shown to increase intradiscal pressure of lumbar/low back discs. Also when you sleep on your stomach you will tend to sleep with your head turned to one side throughout the night. Just imagine turning your head to the right and keeping it in that position for 6-8 hours. This can cause ligament strains, muscle tears and potentially a permanent shift of the vertebra.

Choosing the right pillow

  • Side Sleepers

    If you are a side sleeper you now have to figure out what pillow is right for your body type. The first thing you need to address is the height of the pillow. Whilst sleeping on your side you want to keep the spine as straight as possible.

    The pillow should fill the void between your head and shoulder. So if you have broad shoulders you would go with a higher pillow (high profile) and if you have narrower shoulders you can opt for either a low or medium profile pillow. To get a good gauge of what is the right one, stand up with your shoulders against the wall and then insert the pillow into the space.

  • Back Sleepers

    Just think of someone with bad posture; they have a hunched mid back and their head is in front of their shoulders. We want to avoid this position as much as possible when we sleep; that’s why back sleepers should have shallower/thinner pillow.

    Some people like using contoured pillows and they are ideal for back sleepers. A pillow that is somewhat elevated in lower third is ideal as it will cradle the natural curve of the neck and support it.

Density and Material of your pillow

Got a feather or down pillow? Toss it out! What you need is something with a memory foam/latex material of a medium to high density. These will give you the optimal support throughout your sleep. These tend to be a tad bit more expensive than feather pillows but you need to invest into good pillows considering the amount of time we spend in bed… and they last for years!

Hopefully this answered all your questions regarding picking the right pillow. If you have any more questions contact us today!

How do I know Chiropractic is for me?

How do I know Chiropractic is for me?

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

When people first injure themselves they don’t know who to see. Some people take pain medication or see the GP… but what about a Chiropractor? Chiropractors are known as spine specialists however we are not limited to the spine. We cater for disorders of the musculoskeletal system including sports injuries, postural rehabilitation and repetitive strain injuries.

Every chiropractor you will see will have undertaken at least 5 years of university training to be proficient at the diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal injuries.

Common conditions treated at Dee Why Chiropractic Care:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Shoulder pain
  • Poor posture
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched nerves
  • Sports injuries
  • Tendinitis
  • Ligament sprains

Whether you come in for a quick check-up on your posture or are suffering from something more complex such as disc herniation or impinged nerves, a Chiropractor will complete a thorough case history and examination to reveal the exact cause of your pain.

Don’t be the person that asks Dr Google why they are in pain, you will just end up causing yourself a great deal of stress…leave the diagnosing to the professionals.

We make sure you know exactly how and why it has happened, as we believe understanding why it has happened will prevent future episodes.

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care we encompass a multidisciplinary approach when treating your condition. We utilise an array of techniques to release tight muscle tissue such as dry needling and active releases in addition to chiropractic adjustments to get you out of pain as fast as possible.

Call or email us today with any further questions!

Sciatica Do I have it?

Sciatica, do I have it?

Frequently people come in to Dee Why Chiropractic Care with low back pain that extends into the hips and legs. Lots of people self diagnose themselves with sciatica after doing a quick google search… sometimes this is not the case.

When you have low back pain in the presence of leg pain it its important to get professionally checked. A lot of the time the patient has simple mechanical low back pain with muscular referral into their legs, which can be easily treated.

When we’ve completed a full examination and conclude you have true sciatica our chiropractors can help! 

Sciatica Do I have it?

The sciatic nerve is comprised of 5 sets of nerve roots that exit the lumbar and sacral spine. The sciatic nerve travels from the low back all the way down to the foot. Many things can cause low back with the presence of leg pain however true sciatica is due to irritation of the sciatic nerve or the nerve roots that comprise it.

Sciatica symptoms and signs:

  • Low back and/or hip pain
  • Pain at the back of the leg which is intensified by sitting
  • Burning, tingling or shooting pain down the back of the leg
  • Weakness, numbness or poor motor control of the leg and/or foot
  • Usually only one leg is involved however in some cases sciatica can be present in both legs

Main causes of Sciatica:

  • Lumbar Bulging Disc or Herniated Disc

Spinal discs act as a cushion for our spinal joints and they sit in between each vertebra. When there is increased load on them they may start to degenerate and bulge (just imagine squishing a marshmallow). Bulging disc are painless however when they encroach onto neural structures in particular the spinal nerve roots they may cause sciatica.

In more serious cases a herniated disc causes sciatica. Herniated discs are more severe than bulging discs because the nucleus pulposus that is usually contained within the disc has broken through the annular fibrosis irritating the neural structures. Think of a disc as a jelly donut and the jelly has broken out and compresses the nerve. Not only is this worse than bulging discs because the herniated material causes direct contact with the nerve, this jelly contains an acidic, chemical irritant called hyaluronic acid which causes inflammation of the nerves.

  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

This is more common in the older adults and is a result of compression of the spinal cord or the nerve roots. The spinal cord can be compressed in the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) and the nerve roots can be compressed as they exit the spinal column via the intervertebral foramen (foraminal stenosis). In simple terms, lumbar stenosis is narrowing of the pathway that the spinal cord and nerves travel.

There are many causes of stenosis including:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Ligamentum flavum hypertrophy
  • Arthritic bone spurs
  • Abnormal growths.
  • Spondylolithesis

Spondylolithesis (lets call them spondys for short) is a fancy way of saying one vertebra has slipped forward in relation to the vertebra below. There are a few different types of spondys and not all cause sciatica. We have seen patients in clinic that didn’t know they had a spondy until they were seen on an x-ray.

In cases where spondys do create sciatica is when the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen have been narrowed as a result of the vertebra slipping forward.

  • Trauma

Sciatica can occur from external forces placed on the low back. Most common examples include; car accidents, falls, football or gym exercises such as squats and deadlifts when done incorrectly. Usually sciatica due to trauma results from ligament and lumbar disc damage.

  • Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle lies under your gluts and is responsible for external rotation of the hip. The sciatic nerve runs below it and in some individuals the nerve actually pierces through the muscle. When the piriformis muscle spasms it can compress the nerve giving you sciatica like symptoms.

  • Tumours

Tumours are not common in the spine however if they do occur in the low back, sciatica can occur due to compression to either the spinal cord or nerve roots.

If you think you have sciatica, it is important to get assessed by a professional. The first step to relief is finding out exactly what is causing it!

Contact us today if you feel you are one of those people!

Can a chiropractor help my low back pain?

Can a chiropractor help my low back pain?

Low back pain is extremely common, as 80% of us will experience it at some point in our lifetime. Low back pain can come on suddenly or can linger for years to the point you just get used it.

Fortunately if you are suffering from low back pain, chiropractic can help.

How Dee Why Chiropractic Care can help you with your low back pain

The exact source of your back pain needs to be identified for an effective course of action to take place. For that reason at Dee Why Chiropractic Care we do a thorough case history and physical examination to identify what exactly is injured. Once the source of your back pain is identified we tailor a treatment suited to you. 

If you are suffering from severe low back pain, it is important to be assessed. In serious cases we work closely with other healthcare providers to get you the best possible care.

Common back pain treatments can involve:

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Lumbar traction
  • Various muscle releases
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Dry needling
  • IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation)
  • Active muscle releases
  • Therapeutic ultrasound
  • Strapping

Examples of home back pain management strategies:

  • Heat or Ice
  • Certain creams
  • Stretches
  • Bracing and other supportive products
  • Ergonomic advice

We will prescribe you a rehabilitation program to complement your treatment. These home exercises aim to restore proper function and limit the chances of your back pain from returning. 

If you found this information helpful and want to find a solution for your low back pain, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Importance of having a strong core

A strong core protects you from back pain

Having a strong core has many benefits and at Dee Why Chiropractic Care we emphasise its importance. If you have a weak core you are prone to back pain and postural changes. The core is the body’s powerhouse, it is responsible for protecting your internal organs, facilitates movement and protects your spine and nervous system.

Advantages of having a strong core:

Limits early degeneration of the spine

Having a strong core protects the spine from premature degeneration, limiting the chances of conditions such as sciatica, disc herniations and osteoarthritis.

A strong core prevents injuries and back pain 

The core protects the spine, and without its support more pressure is placed on joints, ligaments and muscles that may lead to injuries.

You lift things everyday. Whether it is a box, your handbag or picking up your child. A strong core will make lifting easier and will help you avoid injury!

Protects internal organs and spinal cord

Your abs protects the vital organs that lay beneath them from direct trauma.

A strong core offers support to the spine and in doing so also protects or spinal cord and nerves!

Limits low back pain when sitting

If we develop a strong core it will add increased stability to structures in the low back and other body parts when we sit.

Great for Posture

When you have a strong core you can stand and sit straight a lot easier!

Having a weakened core will create a forward tilt in the pelvis, creating muscle imbalances and postural changes.

Good posture oozes confidence and takes pressure off the spine!

 

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care

We understand why having a strong core is important in maintaining good spinal health and injury prevention. For that reason, at Dee Why Chiropractic Care we incorporate core-strengthening exercises for patients recovering from injury and undergoing postural rehabilitation. 

If your are suffering from low back pain and want advice on how to improve your core strength, don’t hesitate to contact us 

Is my neck pain and stiffness related to my posture?

Is my neck pain and stiffness related to my posture?

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

Neck pain and stiffness is extremely common in today’s population. A lot of us develop poor posture, which increases the strain of the joints, muscles, and ligaments in the neck. Poor posture in the presence of neck pain is a common presentation we see here at Dee Why Chiropractic Care and is something we can definitely help you resolve!

How do we get poor posture?

Poor posture is something that is developed over time and is usually a reflection of our lifestyle. A large majority of the population have desk jobs that involve slumping over paperwork and typing away at a computer. Some of us do manual work that involves a lot of bending over in awkward positions such as a mechanic working under the hood of a car or a tiler kneeling and bending, working on the bathroom floor.

The body is highly adaptive and will change to accommodate your lifestyle. If you slouch over most of the day the body will adopt that posture over time; the body does whatever you teach it to do. In summary poor postural habits, leads to poor posture.

Common causes of poor posture:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of awareness or education of correct posture
  • Poor ergonomic work setup
  • Nature of work
  • Joint stiffness
  • Muscle imbalances
  • Weakness of the core muscles
  • Decreased fitness
  • Weight
  • Repetitive activities
  • Injury
  • Hereditary

How does poor posture cause neck pain and stiffness?

When we look at someone from the side, ideally the head, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should line up; that would resemble someone with ideal posture. Typically people with bad posture with have a their head in front of their shoulders and a slouch in the mid back.

The human head weighs approximately 4.5-5kg and when the head translates forward it increases the workload of the structures in the neck. Imagine holding a bowling ball close to your body and then holding it out in front of you… it’s a lot harder! Stiffness and pain in the neck is a result the increased stress on the joints, muscles and ligaments of the neck and shoulder!

In addition when we have this posture we typically lose our important C curve in our neck that acts as a shock absorber against gravity potentially leading conditions such as:

  • Cervical (disc) degeneration
  • Wry neck
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Arthritis
  • Pinched nerves

Can Chiropractic Help?

Absolutely!

At Dee Why Chiropractic Care we pay special attention to posture and determine whether it is linked to your pain. We take a digital posture photo in clinic, marking specific landmarks on the body and calculate how good your posture is.

The posture photo tells the practitioner what muscle imbalances are occurring and if there are any alterations in your spinal alignment. This will assist in developing an appropriate treatment and postural rehabilitation program for you.

We sit down and go through the posture photo to make sure you completely understand what is happening in terms of your posture and what steps we need to take to correct it.

Contact us today if you want to find out whether your neck pain and stiffness is related to your posture!

What is causing my chronic low back pain?

What is causing my chronic low back pain?

Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

Almost everyone has experienced low back pain at some point, but if it has been persisting for months or even years…why is it happening? It is a common question we get asked at Dee Why Chiropractic Care.

Chronic pain is defined as pain that has persisted for more than three months. The source of the pain may differ from each individual as the low back is very complex and there are many reasons why you could be experiencing pain.

Common sources of your pain include:

  • Lumbar discs
  • Lumbar facet joints
  • Sacroiliac joints
  • Nerves
  • Muscles
  • Ligaments

The ideal lumbar spine (low back) has a nice “C curve” or arch that allows the forces of gravity to distribute evenly through spine. However studies have shown that when this curve is flattened or even lost there is a strong incidence of low back pain in these individuals.

Loss of this curve is most commonly seen in people that slump at a desk all day or whose work requires a lot of bending. What losing this curve means is that there is increased load placed on the structures named above leading to the occurrence of pain. Pain may come and go or it may persist for years!

It is important to note that chronic low back pain is not only caused by a lack of lumbar curve. An acute injury or traumatic episode causing pain to the low back may resolve on its own however it may also manifest into chronic pain later down the track as the body has compensated for the initial injury. This increases the stress on the spine and surrounding tissues.

Excess load on the spine can lead to the following conditions that cause chronic low back pain:

  • Lumbar herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint dysfunction
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spondylolithesis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Compression fractures

To be exactly sure what is causing your low back pain it is important to be assessed by a professional. At Dee Why Chiropractic Care we believe the best treatment begins with an exact diagnosis. From there an appropriate treatment protocol will be implemented to get you better!

Red flag symptoms of chronic low back pain that need to be addressed immediately

The conditions we just discussed relate to biomechanical causes of chronic low back pain, however if you experience any of the following symptoms it is important that you seek immediate medical attention to rule out serious pathology!

If your chronic low back pain is accompanied by:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of control of the bowel and bladder
  • Significant leg weakness
  • Severe pain that doesn’t decrease over time
  • Severe pain that wakes you at night
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of sensation in the buttock region
  • A pulsating mass in the abdomen