Stretching may be the most important thing you are not doing

It’s easy to see why- with all the constraints of obligations on your waking hours, it can be hard to carve out a few minutes to lay down on the ground and breathe. But that could be the tonic you need to find a bit of relaxation amidst the chaos and provide your body with a gentle boost.

But where do I start? 

It can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve come up with a set of stretches that will start adding flexibility back into your life quickly! We hope to help you gain an appreciation for the feeling of flexibility and how it truly improves your life- in this way, you can take the initiative upon yourself to push further in your new flexible life. For now, let’s keep it simple and start with these intuitive and easy stretches. 

  • Knees to chest: lie on the ground and lift your knees toward your chest, squeezing from behind with both arms. Hold for 5 deep breaths, then…
  • …knees to the side: from the position above, lower your legs to the left, keeping your shoulders flat on the ground. Hold 5 deep breaths then repeat on the right side. 
  • One leg over stretch: lying supine, bring your right knee up then lower it over your left leg. Extend your right arm in the opposite direction and look over your right shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds. 
  • Thigh stretch: Lie on your left side and reach down to grab your right ankle. Pull your ankle up toward your butt to create a stretch in the upper leg. Hold 5 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

How we help at Hayes Family Chiropractic 

Many movements that release the lower back from tension involve stretching the legs. This is because there is a dynamic relationship between the muscles of the lower back and the muscles and nerves which control the function of the lower body. Tight muscles in the upper legs and hips can create a pull on the lower back that causes a lot of pain. At our office in Dunedin, we can help you identify problem areas and start a regimen of stretching and healing that will resolve a lot of your problems with pain. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

flexibility

Flexibility of body and mind

As we grow older, our minds and bodies become set in patterns that limit us and actually begin to cause detriment. We don’t have the abundant reserves of energy we had as children and we grow more sedentary; we must work to earn money which leads a lot of us into jobs that cause repetitive stress; the muscles and structures of our bodies weaken making good posture harder to maintain. At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we believe the best way to undo these harmful patterns is to open up our minds and bodies- to essentially embrace flexibility.

Flexibility of the mind

Openness to new ideas makes us more adaptable, less stressed out and more likely to embrace healthy choices. Keeping an open mind allows us to incorporate new ideas into our life, potentially ones that help us keep a more…

…flexible body

And why do we want our bodies to stay flexible? Here are three main reasons: 

  • Injury prevention, especially from basic daily motions. 
  • Better circulation and muscle tone
  • Less chronic pain

By keeping our muscles pliant into old age, we can overturn the patterns which make us less agile and more prone to injury. 

A 2-minute flexibility saver routine to be done from the office chair 

To illustrate our point, try taking 2 minutes out of this hour to perform these extremely simple stretches that will release muscle tension and loosen muscle fibers, essentially undoing the effect of sitting for an hour straight

  • Body twist: sit up straight and inhale. On the exhale, gently twist your body to the right, looking over your right shoulder and clasping your right knee with your left hand. Hold 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.  
  • Neck turn: simply turn your neck slowly to look over your right shoulder and hold 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
  • Shoulder squeeze: sit up straight and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold 5 seconds, release and repeat. 
  • Shoulder stretch: Reach over your right shoulder with your right arm while simultaneously reaching up from below with your left hand. Clasp your hands and pull up on your left hand to create a tension that stretches the shoulders and arms and opens the chest. 

At our office in Dunedin, we focus on preserving flexibility where it matters most: in the neck, back, hamstrings, shoulders and hips- the parts of the body which account for the most motion and burden of weight. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C.

commute

< An example of how not to sit during your commute .

Commuting can be physiologically and psychologically damaging if you let it. 

The stress of traffic and the crunch for time can take it out of you before you even reach the office while the posture that many of us inevitably slip into in (for the most part) poorly designed car seats is causing unquantifiable damage to our spine. Today is the day we break this chain of damage and establish the daily commute as something more…comfortable. 

Here are some things we thought of that will negate the maleffects of a regular commute:

  • Make the commute easier on the body: focus on sitting up straight with your head balanced atop the spine and hands (with a relaxed grip on the wheel) at 9 and 3. Use a rolled-up jacket to maintain the lumbar curve and relax your shoulders. 
  • Wear comfortable shoes: wear your most comfortable pair in the car and wait to change into the stiff business shoes until you reach the office. 
  • Learn something new with a podcast: while its important to keep up with current events, news can be grating on our sanity. Try adding a podcast about your favorite subject into the routine- it engages your brain and keeps you happy. 
  • Stretch before and after: the neck, shoulders and lower back are the regions most affected during the drive. Use simple stretches to release these muscle groups from tension when you reach the office. 
  • Practice deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation along the way

It’s time to stop entering the office on the wrong foot 

Taking the above preventative measures sets a good safeguard against the incursions of stress from breaking your levy before work even starts. Another way is to reverse the damage that is already done. Let’s work together to unwind the years of tight muscles that have resulted from poor posture, rebalance your spine and establish good driving posture as the norm. Give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

computer vision syndrome

Computer vision syndrome: welcome to life in the 21st century

It almost sounds dystopian, but we promise you it is a real problem and its on the rise. Ask anyone who spends the majority of their day deskbound and they will probably tell you that they have experienced a computer screen headache at least once. The reasons they come about are myriad, but there are a few essential causative factors: 

  • Your eyes prefer to rest at a distance that is further than your computer screen. 
  • Lighting of the surrounding environment: a bright office combined with improperly adjusted monitor settings creates a strain that is too much for the eyes to bear. 
  • The refocusing effect: shifting between the computer screen and objects around the office is stressful to the eyes. 

The computer screen is a headache trigger

In all likelihood, your headache is probably a manifestation of more than just the computer screen: perhaps your posture is poor or you haven’t had the right amount of caffeine that day; your diet was off or you didn’t get an exercise. The computer screen then becomes a trigger for the headache; in this instance, you want to stop looking at it but you have so much work to do! 

Tips for dealing with computer vision syndrome

  • If possible, control the lighting of the external environment
  • Adjust your monitor properly
  • Pay attention to ergonomics and posture
  • Take a break once per hour
  • Avoid refocusing your eyes too often

Exercising power over the factors that are within your control will make a big difference in your experience with headaches at work. 

Chronic headaches are not normal

It is important to note that if you are having regular headaches that affect you significantly, you may want to check with a health professional. At our office in Dunedin, we correct subluxation to improve nerve function and focus on dispelling muscle tension that could be contributing to headaches. Give us a call and let’s start breaking the hold of headaches on your life today!

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

forward head posture

The Ever-Forward Head

Computers, tablets, cell phones: how much of your daily life is conducted through these mediums? While there is a pretense that these devices have a net positive impact on our health, they exact a toll on the spine. Traditionally known as reader’s neck, forward head posture (FHP) comes about when we perform a repetitive task (i.e. reading) that trains our head to rest in a forward position and away from it’s center of gravity, the spine. 

This position adds another 10 pounds of pressure to your spine for every inch it is held forward. 

With cell phones and tablets taking on the role of books, the prevalence of FHP is on the rise. Because of the constant imbalance and added pressure to the spine, it causes the premature onset of degenerative spinal conditions and strains certain muscles in the neck, while letting the ones that are important for stability go weak from lack of use.

A quick self-diagnosis 

Perform the wall test by standing up straight against a wall with heels shoulder-width apart and shoulder blades touching the wall. Is the back of your head touching the wall? If not, there is a good chance you are carrying your head forward rather than centered over the spine. It surprises many people to find, after postural analysis, that they are carrying their head 2-3 inches forward at all times throughout the day. 

How we help at Hayes Family Chiropractic

First, we make you aware: FHP is pervasive and easy to slip into because it is temporarily comfortable- our muscles have trained themselves to desire this position. Next, we focus on re-training the muscles, by releasing those that are tight and strengthening the ones that make a difference in holding your head upright and centered. By focusing on postural behavior through out the day, we believe you can make big changes to how you hold your head, look more confident and prevent future pain.

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

food prep

When the going gets busy, the busy individual gets smart with their food habits! 

When it comes to navigating a busy day, food often falls down the list of priorities; this is a shame because food is your fuel for those busy days. Food prep is time-consuming and therefore easy to cut out of your schedule completely, leading us to rely on ready-made or restaurant-made food in which we have no control over the ingredients. Prepping our meals beforehand offers the best of both worlds: control of ingredients and speed of delivery. 

Time-honored tips that save your waist-line and your wallet 

  1. Plan and prep meals ahead of time: stews, soups, spaghetti; whatever your favorite recipe, take a few hours Sunday night to cook a large version of it then portion the foods into individual Tupperware.

  2. Microwave: with the above preparation complete, each meal can be microwaved in under 90 seconds. 

  3. Slow cooking saves the day: for dinners, throw some ingredients in the crock pot with a bit of stock before you leave in the morning. Voila, a delicious, steaming hot healthy dinner awaits your arrival after work. 

  4. Use smoothies for breakfasting on the go: with a food processor, all the essential ingredients you need to get going can be blended together in about 30 seconds. Let’s get liquid with our breakfast habits. 

  5. Reduce booze intake: while quite a normal way to unwind after a busy day, too much booze is certainly going to hamper your sleep quality, and could contribute to your stress cycle even more. 

Don’t let food fall by the wayside

This is the quickest way to let your body and, more importantly, brain down during a busy day. The simple fact is that skipping breakfast leaves you fatigued and anxious, causing you to gorge at lunch on potentially nutrient-deficient foods. With a little bit of prep time, you will be able to find the time to eat within your busy schedule and it will certainly make a difference in cognitive and bodily function! At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we believe in feeling good at all points of the day and nutrition is one of the ways you can best control your well-being from moment to moment. 

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C.

healthy snacking

Staying energized with snacks?

While we sleep, our body rests and fasts and this is why blood sugar levels often reach a low by 7 AM. Many of us wake up at this time and get going to be at work by 9. Say you are part of the minority who enjoys a balanced breakfast in the morning: by the time you’ve reached work and settled in for the day, you’ve already exerted yourself quite a bit, both physically and mentally. Blood sugar levels are often dipping around 10 AM and by the time lunch rolls around you are positively hangry- a feeling that results from low blood sugar. 

Because low blood sugar makes us feel light-headed, anxious and hungry, we often reach for the easiest, quickest meal in an act of desperation. This is quite often a carb-overload that spikes our blood sugar and leaves us, again, fatigued even though we just ate. There must be some way around this madness! Snacking is a good solution for people who need to stay energized throughout the day.

Snacking done right

Snacking doesn’t deserve the bad rap it has in many wellness cicles. A properly timed snack will:

  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Fend off hunger
  • Prevent the release of stress chemicals

But what is snacking done right? We’ve come up with a checklist that can help you build a snacking plan:

  • 150-200 calories
  • A mix of carbs, protein, healthy fats
  • No refined sugar or saturated fats
  • Nutrient-density is important

With this criteria, the candy bar doesn’t look so substantial after all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have chocolate! Here are some healthy snack ideas:

  • Find your favorite trail mix and keep a bag at your office. 
  • Nut butter with an apple or banana.
  • Yogurt parfait
  • Quinoa based snacks 
  • Hard boiled egg with hummus 

Even a perfectly timed peanut butter and jelly sandwich can save the day! Snacking is one of the best ways to stay energized throughout the day and keep stress at bay. Keeping energy up and stress down are two principles that align with the work we do as chiropractors- if you are suffering from chronic low energy levels, give our office a call to schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

fitness

“Fitness” is not going to happen overnight.

And what does fitness mean anyway? A ripped set of muscles or a killer beach body?

No, we think true fitness is a body with less pain and less weight to hold you back from doing things you truly love; a body that will prevent an old age full of difficulty and dysfunction. Any good fitness plan begins with realistic expectations so write down exactly what your fitness means to you and this will become your guiding light through the process ahead. 

Start simple with a single habitual exercise.

This is our challenge to you:

  • 10 push-ups a day done non-sequentially (eventually you’ll want to do them in a row) OR
  • 10 sit-ups a day OR
  • 20 minutes of recreational walking

…you get the idea. Challenge yourself! If you can do something once every single day, especially something that you like, your body and brain will begin to crave the endorphin release and you will start seeking out this activity as opposed to forcing yourself. From here, you build incrementally and we can help you put a plan in place to do just that. But it begins with changing the attitude toward movement. 

Stop looking at fitness as intimidating

But do keep your expectations realistic- this may be one of the hardest things you do but the upside is tremendous! At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we know that getting fit is a tough business, but we’ve seen great success that starts with realistic expectations. That’s why we offer you our fullest support in keeping your body free of pain so that you can pursue and realize your greatest fitness dreams. Give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C.